UTA senior Frederick Tran won the 2017 Regents' Outstanding Arts and Humanities Award in Creative Writing, Short Fiction.
The winning selection, "Airstrikes," is a short fiction piece about a doctor serving with Médecins Sans Frontières in Yemen, who suffered a terrible loss.
MSF, also known as Doctors Without Borders, is an international humanitarian organization best recognized for its projects in war-torn regions.
News stories about bombings of MSF hospitals in Yemen were Tran's inspiration for his short story. Tran typically prefers to write non-fiction pieces, and noted that when he heard about events in Yemen "I felt this sense of outrage."
Tran is majoring in Critical Languages focusing on Russian language, and minoring in English with a specialization in Creative Writing.
The University of Texas System Board of Regents established the annual Regents' Outstanding Arts and Humanities Awards in February 2012. The honor was created to foster excellence in student performance, reward outstanding students, stimulate the arts and humanities and promote continuous quality in education, according to the University of Texas System's Office of Academic Affairs. The focus of the award rotates each year among fields in the fine arts and humanities. Tran is the third UTA undergraduate student to be honored in this annual competition.
This year, Tran is only one of two students recognized by the selection committee, comprised of experts in creative writing from outside the UT System. In each of the two creative writing categories, Poetry and Short Fiction, up to three submissions from each of the 14 Institutions in the UT System were considered based on a command of language, structure and originality.
Tran emphasized that he would not have submitted "Airstrikes" to the Regents' competition if Professor Laura Kopchick, a senior lecturer in the English Department and Creative Writing Coordinator, had not encouraged him.
"I wrote the story for her Introduction to Creative Writing class and I was not in love with it then," Tran admits. He labored through a dozen drafts before he finalized the short story. He recalled how Kopchick helped him through that process, especially with the story's ending.
"I had written this convenient ending that I was not thrilled about," Tran said. "She told me that a story doesn't need a neat bow to wrap itself up, and that somehow clicked in my brain."
Kopchick said, "What is wonderful about Frederick is that not only is he a talented writer, he's also willing to put in the difficult hours of revision necessary in creating a polished short story."
Tran believes that his selection for this honor reflects well on UTA's College of Liberal Arts.
"I couldn't have written this story without the knowledge I gained here--whether that be the writing styles I studied in Russian literature, the techniques we learned in creative writing or the French I was fortunate to pick up through the language courses," Tran said of the honor. "It's a testament to the outstanding faculty we have in the College of Liberal Arts here at UTA."
Elisabeth Cawthon, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, noted that the college boasts award-winning professors who delight in mentoring students.
"Professor Kopchick and the entire Department of English assist students in finding their voices through writing," Cawthon said. "These talented faculty members instill in students the confidence to submit their creative efforts for publication and recognition."
The Board of Regents will present Tran with his award May 10 in Austin. A $1,500 award also will be presented to the English Department in Tran's name. After his graduation from UTA in December 2017, Tran plans to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing.
About The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a Carnegie Research-1 "highest research activity" institution. With a projected global enrollment of close to 57,000, UTA is one of the largest institutions in the state of Texas. Guided by its Strategic Plan 2020 Bold Solutions|Global Impact, UTA fosters interdisciplinary research and education within four broad themes: health and the human condition, sustainable urban communities, global environmental impact, and data-driven discovery. UTA was recently cited by U.S. News & World Report as having the second lowest average student debt among U.S. universities. U.S. News & World Report lists UTA as having the fifth highest undergraduate diversity index among national universities. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times' 2017 Best for Vets list.