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Smokewood Institute for Young Writers

Class of 2020

Major: Mass Communications
Edmond, OK

Overall, how would you describe your experience in Smokewood?
I had such an amazing experience. All of the faculty were dedicated to helping the students really perfect their craft.

Do you feel like Smokewood prepared you well for college?
I absolutely feel like Smokewood has prepared me well for college. Taking a college course that is condensed to fit into a two-week schedule involves a lot of hard work and a lot of late nights, but the experience of living in a dorm and being with hard-working people helps keep you grounded.

Not only do you get to experience the workload of college and the academic atmosphere, but you also get a lot of camaraderie with your peers, just like college. We got into a lot of shenanigans during Smokewood and we are still really close.

Did anything you learned specifically stick out to you?
Professor Rob Roensch said that it was the responsibility of a writer to be observant, so he would alway ask us for the three most interesting things we observed each day. It was always interesting to see the different things that people would focus on, even though we were together all day. Some people would talk about a dancer that they had met, and others would talk about the chalk on the sidewalk. Some focused on smells, others on sights, and others on sounds. The differences between all of us and the things we noticed were very interesting to me.

I specifically remember an exercise that we did that involved leaving the classroom to find a specific sensory image that inspired a story. Personally, I chose a cold leather couch, and I wrote about the leather couches in hospital rooms, but some students went so far as to stick their tongue in old library books.

We also did an exercise wherein we were made to write without editing and without thinking twice. I think some of my best writing came without thinking.

Would you recommend high school students apply for Smokewood? Why?
I would definitely recommend that high school students apply for Smokewood. It's an incredible experience that comes with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Did completing Smokewood give you a positive impression of OCU?
The faculty here at OCU is incredibly individualized and accommodating, and Smokewood gives a good example of that. Professors really go above and beyond to help their students. I was on the fence about coming to OCU for college, but Smokewood really gave me the push I needed. Here at OCU, they are really good at pushing students to make their dreams a reality, and I see that reflected in the Smokewood Institute. Not only are you writing and editing every day, but you'll also be going outside the school to museums and poetry readings around the city. And, at the end of the two weeks, your work will be published in the Smokewood anthology. The students have complete control over their own success. That's what I love about OCU and what I love about Smokewood.