• 2017 - Jordan Cole
  • 2016 - Hayley Zablotsky
  • 2015 - Nick Barnette
  • 2014 - Aubrey Fineout
  • 2013 - Allana Wooley
  • 2012 - Nickie Ann Vogt
  • 2011 - Bill Hamlett
  • 2010 - Travis Freeman
  • 2009 - Kelli Trapnell
2010 Scholarship Recipient Travis Freeman

Kelli Trapnell
In spring 2009, Kelli Trapnell, a Writing major from Houston, became the first recipient of the Excellence in Literary Fiction (ELF) Scholarship established by Sandra and Michael Brown. Sandra Brown said that Kelli’s “writing demonstrates a vivid imagination, a remarkable ability to write in a wide range of genres, and a mature understanding of human emotion. This rare and wonderful combination of workmanship and innate talent makes her a most worthy recipient of the ELF.”

Kelli's Story

When I applied for the ELF scholarship, I had no expectations of receiving it or of even being considered as one of the top applicants — my only thought on the matter was that I had written a lot of stories that I wanted to share with the world, and that here was a chance to do that. Still, I would be lying if I didn’t say that when Dr. Williams informed me that I’d received the award, it was the first time I really began taking myself seriously as a writer. My professors had always said that my real writing life wouldn’t start until I treated my work like just that, like a career, but the ELF was really my first tangible proof that for me, writing could be something more than just a fool’s errand.

I can honestly say that receiving the ELF changed my life, not only in that it gave me the confidence and the courage to pursue my dream of becoming a working writer, but also in the opportunities that it provided for me financially. Because of the ELF scholarship, I was able to study abroad in Spain and expand my worldview, but more importantly, I was able to use my leftover college savings to make the move to New York City after I graduated, where I am now working hard on my third novel manuscript and on my MFA thesis at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

All this to say thank you to both Sandra and Michael Brown for the many opportunities that they’ve given me. Over these past five years, my writing has grown exponentially. I am so grateful for the Browns’ friendship and support, and I know that every ELF recipient who has come after me feels the same way. I can’t thank them enough.

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