GREENSBURG, PA- The first class from the Master in Arts in writing popular fiction program at Seton Hill College graduated after completing their coursework recently. A total of 8 students graduated. Sr. Vivian Linkhauer, S.C., Ph.D., Associate Dean of Graduate Studies, presented the candidates for degrees and Dr. Mary Ann Gawelek, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, conferred the degrees. Carmine De Young, a graduating student, gave the address and Sr. Vivian Linkhauer led the prayer.

"This group is special to us, not only because they are our first graduating class, but because they are unusual and very talented writers and individual from very different backgrounds: police psychic, nurse, private investigator, teacher,” said Dr. Lee Tobin McClain, Director of the Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. “They all have the important quality of persistence, and each one has completed a book to be proud of. Several are already publishing and most have made contacts in the publishing industry that will help them as they continue pursuing their writing goals. I have every confidence in their ability to succeed as writers of popular fiction."

Numerous students in the program are already established authors. For example of the graduating students, Ridgefield, Connecticut native Carmine De Young’s children’s novel, A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt, won the Marguerite De Angeli Prize and Monessen native Patrick Picarelli’s novel, Jimmy the Wags, was a best seller hit that has a movie deal in the works. Most recently another student, Nalo Hopkinson’s novel, Midnight Robber, was listed among the Notable Books of the Year for Science Fiction on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Established in January 1999, the Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill is one of the only programs in the country that teaches writers to produce the fiction that sells and that reaches a wide audience. Knowing that students who apply to graduate programs have many obligations, Seton Hill has designed a flexible, intensive-residency format that allows a student to earn a Master's Degree while working full-time or caring for a family. One-on-one mentoring by established writers enables each student to develop a writing project in an area of choice, in one of the four areas (mysteries, romance, children's literature, science fiction) or a combination, like historical romance or young adult mysteries. On-line contact with other participants ensures that students become part of a writing community and that they receive varied commentary on their work-in-progress. Week-long residencies, twice each year, inform and enliven the writing experience, bringing students together on Seton Hill's campus to learn the basics and complexities of popular fiction. Guest writers of regional and national fame add extra impact to the residency experience.

"These students are some of my favorite to work with,” said Mary Kay Cooper, Director of Adult and Graduate Studies, of the students graduating. “They are so talented and grateful, grateful that Seton Hill offers a program that fits there needs so perfectly. I expect a bunch of autographed copies of books from this group."

Seton Hill College is a Catholic, liberal arts, women’s focused college in Greensburg, Pennsylvania offering a variety of educational opportunities to diverse populations within and beyond the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. The College is a center for professional advancement for women and men students who seek baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate opportunities that are of relevance to the changing needs of their occupations and of society. Through convenient and personalized delivery systems the College offers more than 30 undergraduate majors, an adult baccalaureate degree, advanced certifications and graduate work in several disciplines including the master of arts in art therapy; master of arts in counseling psychology; master of arts in elementary education; master of arts in writing popular fiction; master of education in technologies enhanced learning; master of arts in special education; and master of science in management.

The following students are receiving their masters of art degree in writing popular fiction:



Carmine De Young



Pamela Thompson



Katy Doran

Kathleen Fritz


Nancy Myer


Patrick Picciarelli


Sarah Barczyk

West Virginia

White Sulphur Springs

Susanna Haynes