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Scholes Young ’97 to return to campus for convo, public reading

Duane Bonifer
MONMOUTH, Ill. – The Monmouth College community will get to hear alumna Melissa Scholes Young from several perspectives when she returns to campus – author, college teacher and first-generation college student.

A 1997 Monmouth graduate, Scholes Young will speak three times on Aug. 31 at the College.

At 11 a.m. in Dahl Chapel and Auditorium, she will address the first “Introduction to Liberal Arts” convocation of the fall semester in a talk titled “What Are the Liberal Arts?”

From 3-4 p.m. in the Mellinger Center Lounge, Director of Multicultural Student Services Regina Johnson will facilitate a discussion with Scholes Young about her experiences as a first-generation student and as a teacher of first-generation students.

And then at 6:30 p.m. in the Morgan Room in Poling Hall, Scholes Young will read from her debut novel, Flood, which was published in June by Hachette Book Group.

Her convocation talk and reading are both free and open to the public.

(An article by the College's Duane Bonifer about her writing and Flood is available here.)

“Bringing Melissa here to talk with our first-year students is ideal," said Assistant Professor of English David Wright. “She felt lost when she was first here, and then, with help from some key folks, she found her way. I’m eager to hear what she has to say to our ‘Introduction to Liberal Arts’ students, who might be feeling a bit lost themselves.”

Scholes Young’s reading in the Morgan Room will also begin this year’s Writers@Monmouth series. The event is sponsored by the College’s Integrated Studies Program, English Program, Office of Intercultural Life, Alumni Office and the Wackerle Career and Leadership Center. Copies of Flood are available in the Monmouth College Bookstore, and Scholes Young will sign copies following her reading.

“When I read Flood this summer, I was fully engaged from beginning to end,” said Wright. “She gets small-town, Midwest life. And the echoes of Mark Twain resonated for me, and I think they will for other readers too.”

After graduating from Monmouth, Scholes Young earned a master’s degree in education at Stetson (Fla.) University and taught in Brazil before earning a master of fine arts degree in creative writing at Southern Illinois University.

In addition to teaching writing at American University in Washington, D.C., Scholes Young has published essays and fiction in several national publications, including The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Ploughshares and Huffington Post.

Scholes Young published an essay last year in The Atlantic about how to help first-generation college students navigate campuses more successfully. The essay drew heavily on her time at Monmouth, reflecting on how longtime Monmouth professor Stacy Cordery reached out to Scholes Young as a first-year student and helped her learn to write at the college level. The essay details how that experience informs the writer and professor’s own work in the classroom.

“As a writer, I really admire the breadth of what Melissa can do, from literary fiction to smart cultural commentary for some of the best publications in America,” said Wright. “Our student writers can really benefit from what she has to say.”