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Mary Kurtz

A Drive to Write

Following a career as a special education teacher and time as a stay-at-home-mom, Mary Kurtz decided to change course and pursue her passion for writing. In 2004, she undertook the creation of a family memoir. With that in mind, she began steeping herself in the craft of writing, attending several workshops and conferences and writing daily, before eventually self-publishing her first collections of essays.

Fueled by a desire to become a more professional writer, Mary enrolled in the Regis Mile-High MFA Creative Writing program. She was certainly no stranger to higher education. A self-described “student at heart,” she had previously earned a master’s degree in special education and a master’s in counseling psychology, the latter from Regis.

What initially drew Mary to the MFA program at Regis was its low-residency program; living three-and-a-half hours from campus meant commuting was out of the question.

“But the low-residency program also really replicates a writing life. We are isolated and then we go out and we are continuing to live our lives until we come together to learn.”

"For anyone considering the M.F.A in Creative Writing at Regis, I would say don’t hesitate. Just apply. It's a wonderful place and a wonderful world."

Mary Kurtz

An Education That Almost Wasn’t

After starting the program and getting feedback from faculty and peers, Mary found that her writing had grown “to another level.”

But while it all seemed to be clicking, life would get in the way.

“Just as I was thinking this was really going to work, my plate became very full. My daughter gave birth prematurely to a son during my second semester, and I contemplated withdrawing. Instead, with the help of my instructors and peers, I was able to lighten my workload. I learned that many people in the program were facing challenges and their experiences helped me reset my own expectations and continue.”

Mary Kurtz

A Range of Experiences

Among the advantages of Mary’s residency portion of the program was the opportunity to work with colleagues and professors on a wide variety of craft-related tasks.

“You might be working in your genre all morning and attending a lecture. Later on, you’re sharing your writing in different classes. Sometimes you’re grouped in your cohort, and sometimes you’re in different areas. I’m in non-fiction, but the interaction I had with other students and faculty in fiction, poetry and other areas made the experience so much more enjoyable and immersive. Listening to other authors and learning about how they approached their own craft taught me so much.”

For Mary, there was also the unexpected benefit of learning to critique the work of others and take their feedback into her own work. Even understanding the nuances of learning to read her work aloud to others had a positive impact.

“It’s such a great way to teach and learn. As opposed to getting a zillion handouts, for example, we spent most of our time working on real, active writing projects.”

A Range of Experiences

Since graduating in 2019, Mary has been hard at work on a new project. She lives on a ranch and has been writing a collection of essays which discover the profundity of nature, mortality and aging in daily ranch life.

“It sounds heavy, but there are threads that run through it about my searching and discovery of philosophical, spiritual things around aging and mortality. As the book moves along, its trajectory deepens, but each essay is layered. That’s a technique that my Regis education helped me hone.

“For anyone considering the M.F.A in Creative Writing at Regis, I would say don’t hesitate. Just apply. It's a wonderful place and a wonderful world. People are there to help you and they want you to be the best writer you can possibly be. But it's also really important to participate. Be a good student and friend to your cohort, and become invested in their work as much as they care about yours. And meet as many people as you possibly can. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish at Regis as a writer.”

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