PMC Alumna & Solstice MFA Student on Returning to her Alma Mater

Full Circle

Melissa Ford Lucken photoPine Manor College alumna Melissa Lucken (formerly Melissa Ford Gehrig) talks about why she chose to return to PMC as a graduate student in the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program*.

"By the time I reached ninth grade I had already attended six schools, so I knew all about drifting along, slipping through the cracks. Throughout most of high school I floated along — one of 1400 students.  Senior year I realized it was my responsibility to provide the challenges I needed to grow. As a result, I only considered small colleges, places where I wouldn’t be able to fade into the background. When I discovered Pine Manor College, and learned that not only was it small but exclusively for women (*Solstice is a co-ed program), I knew it would be a great place for me. I was right. The intimate atmosphere helped me focus on my academics and gave me the support I needed to begin believing in myself.

After a year and a half, missing my family and then boyfriend — now husband of 21 years — I transferred to the University of Michigan. UofM was closer to home but a much, much larger school. I missed the intimacy of PMC but appreciated the challenge of finding my way among thousands. The solid academic foundation and self confidence I gained while at Pine Manor enabled me to be successful in such a highly competitive environment — instead of getting lost in the crowd. I completed my BS at UofM and then moved on to Eastern Michigan University to earn a Master’s in Education. I started my career as a teacher and then a bit later started my life as a mother. While at home with my two boys, I started writing fiction.

Since then, I’ve published eight romance novels and twelve novellas. While commercial success is great, I recently decided I needed a deeper understanding of how fiction works. Also, I longed to be part of a diverse community of writers. When I found out about the Solstice MFA program, I was thrilled. Some research confirmed what I expected; the individualized curriculum and amazing faculty were exactly what I was looking for. It’s not a place to get lost in the crowd. The PMC MFA program is a place for students who aim to uncover their unique qualities as a writer while also learning from those around them. I wanted both of those things. I’m only in my first semester, but already I’ve made many writer friends and learned incredible things."

—Melissa Ford Lucken