Student Spotlight: Kate Wisel (MFA '17)

Published on Apr 05, 2016

By Neal Steichen (MFA '17)

Kate Wisel (MFA ’17) is finishing her first year in Columbia College Chicago’s MFA Creative Writing Program for Fiction. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts Boston in her hometown, Kate was confident in her choice to attend a school that had the strengths she was looking for in a similar city setting. 

“When I saw the professors’ biographies, accomplishments, and their books on display, I knew this was a school that had strong mentorship," explains Wisel. "Columbia looked and felt familiar to me, but also seemed like the kind of place where I could grow.” 

The faculty and city may have drawn her attention, but Kate says that her classmates are just as vital to her positive experience here. 

“Support from other writers is invaluable, and in already such a short time, we’ve supported each other and have watched each other grow.”

As important as that support is in her writing pursuits, Kate attributes a lot of her success to the fun times, too. 

“Throughout the semester, every member of my cohort squeezed into the elevator together and rode it down, dispersing onto Michigan Ave. I won’t forget it, because my classmates are the writing friends I’ve been waiting to meet my whole life: like-minded people who share the same passion.”

Kate Wisel (MFA '17)

Being a graduate student at Columbia is certainly helping Kate focus her passion to creating her own art.

“Writing has been a way from me to express both my curiosity and wonder, and also a way to name or know the world," admits Wisel. "Columbia has helped me to see my work as something tangible. In art, it’s ok to switch gears or feel directionless, sometimes that’s the point, but having Columbia as an anchor is the hold that keeps my ambitions together.”

This attitude of exploration has already brought Wisel success. She has been published in a number of literary journals, including Midwestern Gothic, SmokeLong Quarterly, Fiction Southeast, Literary Orphans, Compose Journal, Neon Magazine, and more. She is also a recipient of the Keach Prize for excellence in poetry at the University of Massachusetts Boston, the Wesleyan Writers Conference’s scholarship, and was a nominee for the Forward Arts Foundation Prize, among other honors. 

As Wisel continues her work at Columbia, she has some advice for other writers, whether they are just beginning or undergraduates who are already on their way.

“Write routinely, read widely, submit your work, and, most importantly, never give up. Rejection will happen, but the most important thing in a writer’s life is not some kind of big break but the relationship they have with their work everyday.”