Chilton Fellows

Melanie Kessinger '18

What did you do for your fellowship?

For my fellowship, I attended the Kenyon Review Young Writer’s workshop in Gambier, Ohio at Kenyon college. During my two weeks there, I had the privilege of working in class with poet Richie Hofmann and 15 other talented young writers from across the country. Each day we read the work of various writers published in the Kenyon Review, discussed the style and content of the piece, and then had the time to write our own piece inspired by that author. We were forced to explore different styles of writing than we were comfortable with, and had to read not only in front of our small class, but--in the final wee--we read aloud to the entire 150-person group of young writers in an auditorium.

What was your inspiration?

Since I was young, I have always loved writing and have always wanted to be a writer of some type when I am older. Writing is my purest form of self-expression; it’s the ability to make my voice heard when the spoken word is too fleeting, too straightforward, too limiting. When I am writing, I am blissfully, inexplicably, undoubtedly sure of myself. I went into my fellowship hoping to explore this passion, and escape from reality, even further.

What was an unexpected learning or result?

I have always been drawn to prose in particular, but during this workshop my instructor Richie encouraged me to consider poetry--which I had always thought of as impossible because I really have no knack for rhyming. However, during my time at Kenyon, I fell in love with poetry and the way in which it can make words so much more powerful. I loved that I had to treat words like treasure, to limit myself and really focus on the heart of what I was going to say. I ended up reading a poem I wrote to the entire group of young writers during the last week, and published three poems in the Kenyon anthology. I continued to write poems during the rest of my travels that summer and have submitted some of them to the Branson literary magazine. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity, which truly solidified my passion for writing and also opened me up to new styles of literature on which I had previously turned my back.

2016 CHilton Fellowship Recipient: Amanda Douglas '17

What did you do for your Fellowship?

My goal was to become well-versed enough in screenwriting to develop and complete the script for a 40-minute pilot TV show. I started by reading a screenplay for a show I know well and skim­ming books about screenwriting. I wrote a story in prose that would form the content for my screenplay. By having a story arc and characters already developed, I was able to work through the screenplay more easily.

What inspired you?

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to pursue a career in film and wanted to test my creativity in a formal setting. My Brit Lit II class was an inspiration. Instead of reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet like a novel, we focused on how we imagined each scene, describing our image of each character, how they would say each line, etc., I realized how much I liked creating a world in my head from dialogue.

What was an unexpected lesson?

Nearing the end of my fellowship, I found myself completely be­hind schedule and panicked. But Branson had prepared me very well, so I used the pressure as motivation. Eventually I developed a schedule of writing seven pages a day and finished my pilot by the deadline.

The fellowship also helped inform my college process. I’m going to film school — something I don’t imagine could have happened if not for this opportunity.

2015 CHILTON FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENT: Beatrice Kelly-Andrews '16


I put on a four-day camp at the Corte Madera Library for children aged 5-8. Planning the camp meant coming up with original ideas and translating those ideas into a curriculum that kids could grasp. We focused on heroes and their roles in our lives. We asked them: “What is a hero? What does a hero do? Who are some heroes you see every day? How can you be a hero?” We used stories–from Robin Hood to those of superheroes–to help us discern what values a hero possesses. We also watched videos like CNN’s Heroes series, which profiled community heroes like a woman who used her garden produce to provide affordable, healthy food to her community, and a man who created a fun, town-wide river cleanup.

The kids learned that you can take what you love and turn that into something heroic.


I have loved reading since I was little, and the Chilton Fellowship gave me the opportunity to share my passion for literature with others. Creating a summer camp for kids allowed me to return to some of my favorite childhood books and explore the topic of "Heroes.”


I had to solve problems in a very different manner, coming up with quick solutions each day to the problems that arose. I had to just let kids be kids. I could plan a curriculum and have a set idea of what I wanted to happen that day, but ultimately it was all about the kids, and you have to be okay with doing what the kids want.

I had to be flexible and quick-thinking, and I hope I can apply these skills to future projects.