The Sparks Prize:

Awarded to a distinguished graduate of the Creative Writing Program as a post-graduation year of residency and writing time, funded by Nicholas Sparks. It is based on the quality of their writing and the likelihood that the submission will be published or will be developed into a publishable book.

2021 Winner: Jasmine Ortiz

Jasmine Ortiz

JASMINE ORTIZ graduated from the University of San Diego in 2017 with a BA in English, a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Spanish. She is interested in the way “reality” coalesces with fiction, in the way family influences everything, and in finding a way to give a voice to it all. If she ever publishes a book, she’d like the last line of the author bio to read: “...she lives at home with her love, her books, and her [hopefully] five dogs.”


The Mitchell Award for distinguished achievement and contributions during residency for the MFA degree in the Graduate Creative Writing Program:

The Mitchell award is designed to honor one MFA second year student for their special contributions to the Creative Writing Program.  It recognizes the student who has been the most involved citizen in the program and one of its best writers.

2021 Winner: Rebecca Gearhart

REBECCA GEARHART is a writer from New York currently living in Indiana. Her work can be found in American Chordata, The Hunger, and The Capra Review.


Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award

Recipient's work reflects Hazo's humanistic aesthetic/ideals and commitment to poetic craft. Selected by unanimous decision from current poetry faculty and based upon thesis, student's class performance, and contribution to the creative writing community and the MFA program.

2021 Winner: Valerie Vargas

VALERIE VIRGINIA VARGAS is a Venezuelan-American poet and printmaker from South Florida. Her work can be found in Jellyfish Magazine, [PANK] Magazine, and TYPO Magazine. She is forthcoming in Waterproof, book two of The Miami Trilogy published by Jai-Alai Books.