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Hollins University
Graduate Center
PO Box 9603
Roanoke, VA 24020-1603
(540) 362-6575
(540) 362-6288 (Fax)

Meet graduates and students

Jan Godown Annino
She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae JumperJan Godown "JG" Annino, M.F.A. '12, Tallahassee, Fla.

"Hollins in the summer is a vibrating green expanse of creative energy. In breaks from intense bouts of writing I could swim, walk with new student pals through a meadow at night to see the stars and look for swallows, goldfinches and bunnies along the path by day. The magical library should charge admission; it's a keen place to read and research and learn from other students while rocking on the porch. The key thing is, I am in love with all my professors’ zest for teaching. Wizardlike, they know how to marry consistent nurturing with high expectations based on your skill set. They made the difference in my writing for young readers. Thank you, Children's Lit at Hollins."

Florida Book Awards gold medal winner in children's literature for She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper

Matthew Prickett
Matthew Prickett, M.A. '10, Farmville, Va.

Matthew B. Prickett holds a B.A. along with an M.A., in English from Longwood University and an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Hollins University (2010). His Hollins thesis was titled "You're Not Like that Person: Representation in Contemporary Young Adult Literature." He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Childhood Studies department at Rutgers University-Camden. He has presented his research at several conferences, including the Children’s Literature Association’s annual conference and the Mid-Atlantic Popular/American Culture Conference. He has published articles and book chapters on L. M. Montgomery, C. S. Lewis, and Mary Downing Hahn. His research interests include children’s literature, history of childhood and children, and children's role in the history of religion. Matthew's dissertation is about the role of children in the new religious movements of nineteenth-century America.

Valerie Patterson
Operation OleanderValerie Patterson, M.F.A. '08, Leesburg, Va.

Patterson is the author of two YA novels, The Other Side of Blue and Operation Oleander.

Heath Gibson
BurnHeath Gibson, M.F.A. '09, Atlanta, Ga.

"I chose Hollins because I wanted to be a part of a program that took the study and writing of children’s literature as seriously as I do. I wanted a graduate program that would stretch me further than I was capable or willing to stretch myself. And I have not been disappointed. The environment is perfect – challenging, supportive, creative. Hollins’ children’s literature program has allowed me to grow creatively, academically, and professionally. Unfortunately, there are some great things about Hollins that can’t be put into words. They have to be experienced. I am just glad I have been one of lucky ones to attend. But I know my time at Hollins will allow me to be a lifelong creator of children’s literature and advocate for the genre." He is the author of two YA novels, Gigged and Burn.

Hillary Homzie, M.A. '98, Napa, Calif.

Author of Things Are Gonna Get Ugly and The Hot ListThe Hot List

"Hollins is where I was given the freedom to read, write and call myself a writer. It’s where I've found some of my best friends — writers and scholars who support me in my career and inspire me to always reach higher.

"My professors at Hollins engaged me completely. It wasn’t all about I'm a brilliant professor hear me roar; it was what do you think? And they honestly seemed to want to know — which made me want to know.

"For me Hollins was a sanctuary, where I could experiment with words and ideas in a non-competitive, nurturing environment.  

"With small class sizes, and an outrageously supportive faculty, I felt as if I had discovered my own personal Oz. Hollins is real and magical because the faculty and students make it so."

Amie Rose Rotruck, M.A. '05, M.F.A. '09, Mount Airy, Md.

"I completed the M.A. in Children's Literature in 2005, with a middle-grade fantasy novel as my thesis. I enjoyed my studies at Hollins so much that I decided to continue my studies in the M.F.A. program. I have tried to take full advantage of everything Hollins has to offer, from two study-abroad trips in the UK to participating in the Francelia Butler Conference each year.

"I came to Hollins to perfect my fiction writing craft and found that, in addition to writing for children, I also really enjoy children's literature scholarship and storytelling. Hollins is so much more than classes about children's literature. It is a truly unique opportunity to spend six weeks with some of the best scholars and writers in the field; some of whom are professors, others are fellow students. I will be very sad when my time at Hollins ends, but plan to use what I learned there to contribute to the world of children's literature as both a fiction writer and scholar."

Rotruck is the former chair of the Children's and Young Adult Division of the annual International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts.

PHOTO: Amie Rose Rotruck (with puppet she made). She won the Shirley Henn Award for Critical Scholarship at the Francelia Butler Conference. She is the author of A Young Wizard's Handbook.