Graduate Dean’s Medalist: Mialise Carney

Student of Distinction: Mialise Carney

Mialise Carney is a graduate student receiving her M.F.A. in creative writing from the Department of English. She is the Dean’s Medalist for the College of Arts and Humanities.

“Mialise, however, remains an exception among the exceptional with extraordinary creative ability, academic achievements, and dedication to community and department service. Mialise is an outstanding graduate student who has consistently demonstrated a deep commitment to academic excellence,” said Vanita Blackburn. 

Carney was raised in Massachusetts and homeschooled but eventually, she says,  abandoned her education altogether. Despite having yet to open a textbook in years, at 16, she was accepted into introductory courses at the local university. 

At first, she struggled with basic concepts such as essays, important historical movements and remedial math. She flourished academically and creatively through hard work and challenges from her mentors. 

In her final year, she wrote a creative honors thesis examining her homeschool experience mentored by Dr. Sarah Fawn Montgomery, an alumna of Fresno State’s MFA program. 

“To write was no longer only to prove I’d learned something – it was to connect, to be understood, to become real,” Carney said. “[Dr. Sarah Fawn Montgomery’s] philosophy that writing is a community-based practice brought me 3,000 miles across the country here to Fresno State’s Creative Writing Program.”

Alongside her degree and community work, she has published 25 stories and essays in literary journals, which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and twice awarded the Fresno Fiction Prize.

“A successful writer, teacher and editor, Mialise Carney is an inspiration–one of those rare students who comes along once in a lifetime—smart, talented, hard-working, energetic, community-minded, and extremely capable—and she is on a trajectory of success,” said Randa Jarrar. “Fresno State should be proud of her brilliance and her work and the ways she helps those in her community.”

“I grew up silenced and sheltered from society, but through education, community and art, I’ve discovered a place in a world I didn’t believe had space for me,” said Carney. “As I look toward my future, I prioritize these values: writing stories that explore the voices of silenced women, attending residencies, editing literary journals, pursuing publication for my first manuscript, and mentoring young writers who may not have been told yet that their voices and stories are worthy.”

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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