The Writers’ program is thrilled to announce the latest recipients of the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing. This year was one of our strongest years for qualified applicants, and we are very excited for these passionate students to embark on a writing journey with us that might not have otherwise been possible. Here they share experiences with the Program and what receiving the scholarship means for their goals.

Thalia Bernal
When I came across the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship, I knew right away it was for me. I had no previous connection to UCLA besides taking a couple free courses online, but I knew I didn’t just find it by chance. As a Cuban Mexican American, former foster youth, adventurous person who sees the world in a totally different perspective compared to most due to my upbringing, I know I have stories that need to be told. Growing up I didn’t have the resources or support I needed to hone in on my craft, but I knew writing was my calling from a very young age. I escaped my reality through writing. I want to share my experiences to inspire, engage, impact, and entertain. I know this program will set off a fire in me and help me focus on my project of short stories and kick off my next planned project, a half hour comedy. The program has yet to start and I already feel the immense support and love from the staff. Beyond thankful for this opportunity and excited to be in the mix!

Terry Crosby
As a senior in life – not high school or college – selection as a 2021-2022 Phyllis Gebauer Scholar certifies me for the next phase of my career journey as I graduate from 20+ years of news writing to the unlimited potential of novel writing.
My current writing goal by the end of the academic year is to accomplish a 300-page rough draft of a manuscript for my political fiction trilogy. The scholarship would help me overcome industry barriers of being a fiction writer in the mostly non-fiction market of Washington, D.C. Washington is a great regulatory community but is geared toward non-fiction since there is an excess of actual powerbrokers in the city who are living and creating actual stories. The Los Angeles market is a renewal community filled with professional instructors I can connect with to pursue my “what if?” fiction perspective and also to reinvent my writing skills on a higher level.
I am reigniting my writing through the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship!

Paul Yoder
I’m beyond grateful to both Phyllis Gebauer and the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program for this honor. I look forward to the expert and personalized instruction that I’ve come to expect from WP courses. I’m a veteran and dedicated Sci-Fi/Fantasy novelist from the corn-swept megarural midwest. My short-term goal in the WP is to enhance finished manuscripts with classes in editing and publishing. The resulting novels will then surely topple the reigning corporate elite or something. So, be on the lookout for that.
In the long term, I hope to pass on what I learn in these classes to all those with a story to tell. Pursuing those goals is a continuous reminder that behind every good book, you’ll find a multitude of benefactors and educators who simply want to help good people tell good stories. That’s why I hope for the day that I’ll be able to help others in the way I’m being helped today. In the meantime, I do my small part by hosting many free novels and educational resources via the Author’s Dozen podcast. All that free stuff probably explains my need for a scholarship, come to think of it.

Maria M. Williams
I am honored to be a recipient of the 2021-2022 Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in writing.  As a citizen of the Republic of Brooklyn, veteran, mother and descendant of written and oral storytellers, I welcome this opportunity to become part of the UCLA Extension family. This award allows me access to courses taught by successful writers and the tools to strengthen my writing.  I’m going to apply for an MFA in creative writing and these courses will help me present my best work. I look forward to writing my first book of short stories.

Eleanor Vigneault
Thank you to creative writing program representative Jennie Seidewand and the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship Committee for granting me and helping me navigate being a 2021-2022 recipient. I’ve been ogling the course catalogue for years, and this scholarship has made it possible for me to continue my writing education without furthering myself into student loan debt. For my time in the Writing Program at UCLA extension, I aspire to polish short stories I’ve spent the last year drafting as well as churn out the first draft of a novel. Congratulations to my fellow recipients, I hope to see you in class.


Cassandra Betancourt
I’m so amped and can’t wait to start my class, Writing Your First Streaming TV Series. At the end of the class, I will have a pitch deck for my very first pilot and I’m ready! This scholarship is so important to me because I’ll be learning from the best professors UCLA has to offer, with real-life experience in the entertainment industry. My short-term goal is to write my first genre pilot script accompanied with a pitch deck that I’ll be working on in class and to finish up a feature script in an advanced class next semester. My long-term goal is to get represented by a manager/agent and see my ethnically diverse characters come to life on the big screen and TV. For producers, studios, and productions can witness people of color can do anything and audiences are ready for it. Let’s do this!

Alyssa Jones
At the core of my predilection for narrative is a deep fascination with mythos. I believe that mythology is a geography, a form and study of meaning-making vital to the preservation of the collective human spirit. As a writer and liberationist, I recognize that this meaning-making does not occur in silo. Mythology as praxis has infinite potential for service and impact. Thus, I am eternally grateful to the Writers’ Program at UCLA Extension for awarding me the Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing. This scholarship will help me make an offering to this sacred literary tradition — a body of work that is not solely anthropological but decolonial. My experience in One Hour TV I has provided the structure, feedback and collaborative work environment needed to elevate my craft. And it is my hope that one day my presence and work in television inspires writers like me to truly embody story. Within this vast, earthen terrain, our art generates.

Karen Dean was also a recipient of the scholarship.

Congratulations to all the awardees!

The Phyllis Gebauer Scholarship in Writing was designed to foster the talent of diverse and promising writers who lack the financial resources to study their craft formally in a supportive environment. Funded by the late Phyllis Gebauer, a beloved Writers’ Program instructor of many years, the scholarship is awarded to several students annually who are given the opportunity to enroll in three full-length Writers’ Program courses. Applications for the 2022-2023 scholarship should open in March of 2022.

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