Two Kennesaw State MAPW students receive national recognition

KENNESAW, Ga. | Mar 17, 2022

Two Master of Arts in Professional Writing students at Kennesaw State University have won national honors for their creative writing and composition and rhetoric. 

Tyra Douyon won the Tin House Young Adult Workshop award, and Haley Hamilton had a proposal accepted for the Conference on College Composition and Communication, which was held online March 9-12.  

Tony Grooms, director of the MAPW program and professor of creative writing, said he is “constantly amazed” by the accomplishments of MAPW students and alumni across a range of writing fields in the program’s 26-year history.

“Tyra and Haley continue the tradition that reflects the hard work and talent of both students and of faculty,” he said. “I'm so proud of them all for engaging in projects that are relevant and impactful for communities across the country.” 

Tyra Douyon

As a result of her award, Douyon participated in the Tin House Young Adult Fiction workshop online in January 2022. She presented excerpts from her novel-in-progress, “Shout Me Home,” which she has been workshopping in MAPW classes. Douyon competed with more than 1,000 applicants nationwide and was among just over a fifth of those applicants to be accepted.  

“I was finally able to talk with authors, agents and writers that specifically wrote in my genre and wanted to help shape my novel for young adult readers,” Douyon said of her participation in the workshop. “The agent I spoke with is interested in the book and wants me to officially query her when I'm ready.” 

Douyon’s novel follows a teenager living in New York City as she struggles to care for a younger sister and a mentally ill mother.  

“My book has evolved to become a novel-in-verse or a hybrid novel all because of the great feedback about the poetry in the book and my spoken-word performance,” Douyon said. “I can say that not only has my book evolved, but I've grown as a writer, too.” 

Hamilton’s proposal, “Imagining New Possibilities,” for the Teacher-to-Teacher session at CCCC, examines innovations and technologies in peer review. 

Haley Hamilton

“To pare it down to a thesis, the longitudinal use of Google Drive as a collaborative, peer review tool in first-year composition fills an essential need, particularly during COVID, to adapt user-friendly tools that students can use seamlessly in face-to-face and virtual spaces," Hamilton said.

Hamilton notes that her capstone thesis committee — lecturer Laura Howard and professor Letizia Guglielmo — was helpful in developing her ideas. Lara Smith-Sitton, coordinator of undergraduate programs and associate professor of English, walked Hamilton through the process of making the proposal and applying for the grant. 

“I love teaching first-year composition, so I am looking forward to meeting like-minded others at this conference,” said Hamilton, a second-year teaching assistant. “Teaching, in my experience, is made better by collaboration with peers, so I am most excited about making connections and discovering new strategies to be the most effective teacher I can be for my students.” 

– Thomas Hartwell

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit