Dina Folgia Alumni Profile

Dina Folgia Alumni Profile

Rowan Writing Arts Graduate Turns Free Time into a New Life

By Steve Royek

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When the world shut down due to the COVID pandemic for most of 2020 and 2021, people filled their time with many different endeavors: Some baked bread, others adopted a pet, many mastered stunts for display on Tik-Tok.

Dina Folgia took the time to reshape her life.

A 2021 Rowan graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Writing Arts and concentrations in both Creative Writing and Publishing & Writing for the Public, Dina spent her time in isolation writing, rewriting, editing, and perfecting samples of her work in hopes of getting published and finding a graduate school to pursue her studies.

“This period was a turning point for my writing,” Dina said, explaining that she spent this period retooling her previous work and preparing samples for her Master of Fine Arts application packages.

These efforts clearly paid off for Dina as she parlayed those sharpened skills into a fully funded position in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program in the Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Humanities and Sciences.

Her route to the VCU campus in Richmond, however, was anything but direct, and she credits the time she spent at Rowan, the influences of two Writing Arts professors, and her numerous noteworthy accomplishments with playing key roles in the journey.

Dina’s trip started when the enrolled as a History major with a Writing minor at the University of Delaware after graduating from Haddon Township High School in Westmont, Camden County, where she was an active member of the school’s creative writing club.

“I was still writing on the side as a History major,” Dina explained, “and, as I started to find that to be more enjoyable than studying ancient civilizations, it was time for a change.”

That change, of course, was a transfer to Rowan.

“I was familiar with Rowan from my time in high school, and (the university) gave me a well-rounded education that prepared me for the rigor of creative writing,” she said. “It turned up my writing 10 more decibels and helped lay the groundwork for the next chapter of my life.”

Dina specifically mentioned the experiences she had in classes with Rowan Writing Arts instructors Katie Budris and Joan Hannah as giving her work a sought-after boost.

“The first poetry class I took with Katie changed my life,” Dina said. “I previously had only read poetry, but once I started writing it, I saw my future.”

During her time at Rowan, Dina served as an e-board member of the Avant undergraduate publication and an intern for the Glassworks graduate publication. She also won two Denise Gess Literary Awards, a second place in poetry and a third place in creative nonfiction, during her senior year.

These honors and achievements helped prepare Dina for her isolation-based writing, rewriting, and editing efforts that went into an MFA application portfolio. Every item in that portfolio has subsequently been published in various peer-reviewed journals, with work being nominated for Best of the Net, Pushcart, and the AWP Intro Journals Project. In addition, her work has appeared in Dunes Review, Foglifter, Grub Street, Ninth Letter, the minnesota review, and others.

That impressive portfolio helped her beat the odds and receive a spot in VCU’s three-year MFA curriculum; national averages show only 2.5 percent to 5 percent of undergraduate applicants are accepted into fully funded programs.

Having just wrapped up her first year in Richmond, she will be serving this coming academic year as Lead Poetry Editor for the Blackbird, the MFA program’s literary magazine. She also serves as a graduate teaching assistant and is planning to continue writing once she graduates. You can keep up with her work at https://dinafolgia.com.

“Many great writers struggle within their graduate programs,” Dina said, but the quality education I received at Rowan has prepared me to meet the challenges I face every day.”