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[Chestnut Hill, MA, January 2016] On Saturday, January 9, 2016, the Solstice Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College awarded the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree to eight students: fiction writers Jane Cawthorne, Francis (Russ) Maguire, Jessica Schnur, and Louise Weaver; young adult writers Kat Fitzpatrick, Rachael Sevier, and Jonathan Todd; and creative nonfiction writer Andrea Davies.

President Rosemary Ashby welcomed the crowd of more than 100 fellow writers and their friends and family members, and Dean Dr. Diane Mello-Goldner made a few remarks about the MFA Program, followed by Program Director Meg Kearney. Class speaker Kat Fitzpatrick spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates. Commencement Speaker Richard Blanco — an essayist, picture book author, and the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history—delivered an inspirational speech, followed by presentations of each graduate by MFA faculty members. A reception for graduates and their guests took place afterward.

  • Fiction writer Jane Cawthorne, a resident of Toronto, Ontario, completed her creative thesis, Patterson House, and delivered a lecture on “Another Point Of View On Point Of View: Beyond Burroway.”
  • Creative nonfiction writer Andrea Davies, a resident of Arroyo Grande, California, completed her creative thesis, Roaming, and delivered a lecture on “What’s Your Story? Advocacy And The Personal Essay; Or, Convergent Narrative Structure: Where The Personal Meets The Political.”
  • Young-adult writer Kat Fitzpatrick, a resident of Schenectady, New York, completed her creative thesis, The Lost Evacuation, and delivered a lecture on “The Fight to Write.”
  • Fiction writer Francis (Russ) Maguire, a resident of Mansfield, Massachusetts, completed his creative thesis, The Nine-Line, and delivered a lecture on “The Value And Crafting Of Exposition To Support Technology-Centric Thriller Fiction.”
  • Fiction writer Jessica Schnur, a resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, completed her creative thesis, Later than We Imagine, and delivered a lecture on “Boundaries & Belonging: Allowing Characters to Find Their Own Place.”
  • Young-adult writer Rachael Sevier, a resident of Valrico, Florida, completed her creative thesis, My Guardian Angel, and delivered a lecture on “An Ill Mind, Not An Ill Protagonist: Creating An Antagonist Out Of Mental Illness.”
  • Young-adult writer Jonathan Todd, a resident of Natick, Massachusetts, completed his creative thesis, Cecil Hall is an Oreo, and delivered a lecture on “The Anatomy of Humor in Scenes.”
  • Fiction writer Louise Weaver, a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida, completed her creative thesis, The Judge, and delivered a lecture on “Setting: Strategies For Exposition In Historical Fiction.”


As an undergraduate institution consistently ranked among the most diverse in the country, Pine Manor College emphasizes an inclusive, community-building approach to liberal arts education. The Solstice MFA in Creative Writing reflects the College’s overall mission by creating a supportive, welcoming environment in which writers of all backgrounds are encouraged to take creative risks. We strive to instill in our students an appreciation for the value of community-building and community service, and see engagement with the literary arts not only as a means to personal fulfillment but also as an instrument for real cultural change.

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