Its graduation time again! Over 2,000 students have completed certificate programs this year through UCLA Extension and more than half of those students have expressed interest in attending the ceremony which will take place on Friday, June 19th at Royce Hall. It will be a grand affair and we’re so proud of our new grads! Writers’ Program is always happy to highlight a graduate from our ranks and this year we are showcasing Kelly Ingalls! Kelly has completed his Certificate in Creative Nonfiction Writing and was kind enough to answer our questions.

Writers’ Program: Hi Kelly! Tell us a little about yourself and the type of writing you have pursued!

Kelly Ingalls: I am a sustainable design and construction professional, and my firm, KMI Sustainability Consulting, Inc. provides technical writing for the building industry. This gives me the opportunity to write for a living. Through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, I have been able to expand my technical writing by taking courses in creative nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry.

WP: How did you first hear about UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and when did you decide to take courses?

Kelly: I completed a certificate in Construction Management in 1999, so I was familiar with UCLA Extension. I was looking for a well-recognized writing program that would be tailored to my interests, and that I could complete at my own pace. I decided to join the certificate program in fall of 2012. I had thought about an MFA program in creative nonfiction, however I needed to balance my writing studies with my consulting practice and lifelong study of classical piano.

WP: What made you decide to go for the certificate program as opposed to taking courses “a la carte”?

Kelly: UCLA Extension offers a good variety of writing courses that have helped me meet my goals of being a more versatile writer, who can work professionally in several genres. Most of the writing I have done professionally was for the building industry. I wanted to be able to take on broader assignments, such as magazine articles, personal essays, journalism, and music criticism. I also looked to the Extension program for ways to network, get to know other writers, understand the inroads to getting published, build a better web presence, and a set up a blogging platform. I was particularly interested in the publishing workshops provided through UCLA Extension. They enabled me to understand the traditional, online, and self-publishing options and decide which ones might be the best fit for my work.

The instructors in the Extension program have also been a big draw. They are professional writers, and some have works on bestseller lists. They understand the inroads, the pitfalls, and challenges of the literary world. As practitioners, they know how to engage students and effect a real improvement to their writing skills. The opportunities to collaborate with other writers, both in the classroom, and on-line, was important. Some students were just starting out, and others had developed stunning abilities. This collaboration not only enhanced my learning, it was also an opportunity to teach other students by using my own knowledge base.

WP: What are you working on now? How did your experience help you reach your goals?

Kelly: I have several areas of works in progress. One is a book proposal for a green building technical guide for construction contractors. I have a little more work to complete, and I’ll be shopping for an editor and publisher. I plan to round up some of the personal essays that I’ve completed during my certificate program and re-work them into a memoir with a more unitary theme. I also completed a stand-alone nonfiction essay that I am marketing now.

The creative nonfiction, short fiction, and poetry courses I’ve taken under the certificate program have helped me to be a more disciplined writer, to work with a broad range of subjects, and to meet firm deadlines. I’ve learned to lose the fear of taking risks, to find my own voice, and to have a sense of humor. I’ve learned techniques for grabbing my reader’s interest, sustaining that engagement, and making sure there’s a wow-factor. Most importantly, I’ve learned that less is more. The writer’s challenge is to share one’s truth with the reader, to inform, and do it all with brevity, style, and wit.

WP: Thank you for your time, Kelly, and please keep us posted on your future writing successes!

Kelly: Thanks for this opportunity to talk about myself and my writing, and for providing a really wonderful program.

Congratulations to Kelly Ingalls and all of this year’s UCLA Extension Writers’ Program graduates! Click here if you are interested in exploring a certificate program or call our main line at 310-825-9415 Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm to speak with an advisor!

Carla Janas is the Assistant to the Director. Write to her a cjanas@uclaextension.edu.

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