Chelsea Lebron, a first-year MFA student in Creative Writing, has been named the recipient of this year’s Robert Raymond Scholarship, encouraging students who contribute to the MFA program’s diversity.
Lebron is pursuing the fiction track in the MFA, with stories that draw on her fascination with “the role of ghost stories and hauntings in conversation with memory and culture.”
“I would characterize my writing as lyrical and wispy, honest, with a sprinkle of slang,” she explains. “Range aside, I try to engage my stories with ideas about Latino identity, religion, and family. Writing about these themes has helped me grapple with my own relationship to my identity as a Puerto Rican woman from an inner-city, but also fulfill my hopes to reach an audience of readers often overlooked.”
Lebron is a native of Jersey City— “one of the most diverse cities in the country”—and she credits both the urban area and New Jersey generally as “an influence on my writing and the people I tell stories about.” During her undergraduate years at Rutgers University, she double-majored in English and Cinema Studies, minored in Visual Arts, and also completed a Creative Writing Certificate.
“As you can probably tell,” she adds, “I’ll do anything if it means getting to be a little creative.”
And what does receiving this scholarship mean for Chelsea and her work?
“The gap between my relationship with being Latina and the fact that I can’t speak Spanish has been a source of insecurity for me my entire life,” she says. “I’m older now and finding myself as a writer, and I’m trying to be more ambitious about my goal to finally learn the language. Additionally, I’m passionate about prison justice and resources for prisoners and I hope to one day do creative and therapeutic work running creative writing workshops for incarcerated Latinos. Should that day come, I want to be able to workshop their writing in whatever language they’re comfortable expressing themselves in. The Raymond Scholarship will go towards funding the extra undergraduate Spanish language course I’m taking this semester on top of my graduate classes. Taking this class is just one step on my journey to fluency, but it will influence both the authenticity of my writing and the reach of my advocacy.”
The Robert Raymond Scholarship was established in 2018 by Roz Gann, a former Mason professor and former MFA student herself, in honor her late father, “who loved literature, marched with Martin Luther King, and would have loved this place that is George Mason University.”
March 30, 2022