We are thrilled to announce the six recipients of the inaugural Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing! Claire, a UCLA Extension Distinguished Instructor who has taught more than 90 courses and mentorships for the Writers’ Program since 1994, and who has helped numerous students get their work published, created the scholarship to acknowledge promising novelists and to provide an opportunity for them to study their craft and work on their novels-in-progress in a supportive educational environment.

Without further ado, meet this year’s recipients—who come from locations as diverse as Los Angeles, Wyoming, and Syria–who share what receiving this scholarship means to them.

Pamela Lee Blankenship

Pamela Lee Blankenship, Agoura Hills, CA

Novel-in-progress: Flightland

“You know the feeling that you get in your insides when you hear something that makes you feel so validated that you spontaneously start jumping up and down with your arms dancing wildly in the air above you? That’s how I feel about receiving the Claire Carmichael Scholarship in Novel Writing. It is a boost to my confidence to know that people find my story intriguing, and being awarded more classes through the Writers’ Program allows me to further hone my craft and continue on this journey of writing my first novel.”


Jennifer Carson

Jennifer Carson, Santa Monica, CA

Novel-in-progress: Fire Sermon

“Coming out of an educational and professional background in science, I crave immersion in a literary community. The scholarship makes it possible for me to continue my writing education — to finish my novel and begin my next project — under the mentorship of the program’s stellar instructors and with the support of its community of writers.”


Maria Dadouch

Maria Dadouch, Damascus, Syria

Novel-in-progress: Dispersion

“Can all these scribbles on the scraps of paper pinned to that cork board in my room ever be anything of value? Anything worth reading? I was never sure of the answer until the day I won this scholarship. Yes, they can.”



Rayna Jensen

Rayna Jensen, Los Angeles, CA

Novel-in-progress: Flora and Fauna

“This scholarship is both a huge opportunity and a little more kindling for the fire. It means it’s time to really get to work.”




Erik Rodgers

Erik Rodgers, Los Angeles, CA

Novel-in-progress: The Broken World

“This scholarship will give me access to instruction that will help me reach the next level as a writer. It is an incredible opportunity to develop the tools and craft needed to create quality, publishable fiction.”



Michael Sudmeier, Photo by Kyler Deutmeyer

Michael Sudmeier, Jackson, WY

Novel-in-progress: currently untitled

“I’m honored to be a part of the Writers’ Program and to receive a Claire Carmichael Scholarship. Together, these opportunities provide access to committed mentors and a community of dedicated readers and writers. Their support and feedback are invaluable—the novel on which I’m working would not exist without them.”

We are so proud of our scholars, and can’t wait to see their progress over the course of the year. At the close of the program, they will have the opportunity to submit their best 75-100 pages for judging, and one manuscript will be chosen based on the quality of the writing and its potential for completion and ultimate publication. The winner will receive a two-month, one-on-one mentorship with Claire.

Congratulations Pamela, Jennifer, Maria, Rayna, Erik, and Michael! Now get back to writing!

Katy Flaherty is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (Onsite). Contact her at 310-206-0951 or kflaherty@uclaextension.edu.

Pin It on Pinterest