Do you work in the creative writing or publishing industry or know someone who does? Current senior Kaitlyn Helsel dreams of becoming a published author and sharing her stories with the rest of the world. She would love your advice about the best ways to hone her craft, how to get a manuscript in front of the right people, and any other insights that you may want to offer her.

Kaitlyn is currently an English major with a concentration in creative writing. Her dream job is to become a published author, sharing the stories she loves writing for those who love to read. Graduating in May, Kaitlyn is looking for a job or paid internship and seeks a challenge; after all, her talent has her creating new and exciting worlds each day. “For a lot of young adults and children, books are where we discover the world around us, where we come to understand and love imaginary worlds that seem far-flung but are, oftentimes, just around the corner,” Kaitlyn said. 

One of the major reasons Kaitlyn chose Longwood was because of its creative writing program. Coming into college, she knew she wanted to do something in the field of writing or storytelling. She regards writing as “a powerful way to help people live.” Additionally, she chose Longwood for the warm and inviting atmosphere, and the friendly welcome she received when she first visited. “There is something about Longwood, an atmosphere and openness that is hard to describe… it is collegiate and doesn’t feel censored, and I think that is because Longwood teaches us to learn and grow beyond campus, and expects and encourages us to become the person we want to become,” she shared passionately.

In addition to her academic work, Kaitlyn is a brother of Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity where she learned the value of serving others and the community. And most recently, she joined the Guitar Club where she currently serves as historian.

There are many people Kaitlyn admires and appreciates at Longwood, but at the top of the list is the beloved Mrs. Sharon who is a campus favorite for the role she plays in “swiping” students into the dining hall. Of course, Mrs. Sharon isn’t just the swiper, but sees it as her duty and responsibility to check on students and fill them with joy and love. Kaitlyn admires Mrs. Sharon because “she is always so kind… she is the perfect example for how we should all treat one another,” she shared. “Mrs. Sharon knows every single student by their name… she is the master of quick check-ins, asking about my day and encouraging me and my fellow peers when we need it the most,” Kaitlyn urged. And her favorite class you ask? That would be ENGL220: Introduction to Dramatic Writing with Professor Mary Carroll-Hackett because “it was my first introduction to the creative writing world and it taught me the valuable skills of taking criticism, critiquing myself, and constructively critiquing the work of my classmates,” Kaitlyn confirmed.

A self-proclaimed bookworm, Kaitlyn fell in love with reading at an early age and from there, developed a love for writing and telling stories. “Books inspired me as a kid and I loved the adventure and fantasy in the worlds created by spectacular writers… writing is important, and I want to do it for the rest of my life because I want to keep expanding what I know I am good at doing,” Kaitlyn continued. Driven by a lot of coffee and practiced self-care, Kaitlyn says that her most creative moments happen when she is least expecting them. Taking care of herself allows her creative mind to explore and roam. As for success--Kaitlyn says “being able to cross things off my lists, whether it’s my to-do list or my bucket list, is what success looks like for me.” She continues, emphasizing that “doing the things I love to do with the time I have is important, and being happy and smiling more days than I frown, all while bringing joy to others, sounds like a life well lived.” The ultimate success moment, Kaitlyn says with a huge smile, is “walking into a Barnes and Noble bookstore and seeing a book with my name on it sitting on the shelf… that would be pretty cool.”

Consider connecting with Kaitlyn on LinkedIn and share your advice and any job or internship opportunities that could be available to her after graduation.

About the Author

Dustyn Hall ‘18

Dustyn Hall '18 is the Director of Young Alumni & Student Giving in the Office of Institutional Advancement, and has served in that role since July 2019. Before his current service at Longwood began, Dustyn worked for Phi Mu Delta National Fraternity & Educational Foundation as the Director of Advancement, where he oversaw the development, communications, and alumni engagement sectors of their operations.

Leave a Comment