The aim of our SCBWI-Michigan BIPOC Scholarship Awards is to promote inclusivity among our membership and to offer the benefits of membership to selected applicants. For several years now, the SCBWI-Michigan BIPOC Scholarship recipients have enjoyed the perks of membership, including member-based fees for conferences and networking opportunities among our creative kidlit community. If our aim is to be inclusive, we need to authentically engage with our local communities and let them know about the BIPOC scholarships we offer.
As we approach the next round of our region’s 2023 BIPOC Scholarship Applications, let’s hear from this past year’s recipients: Pria Dee (PD), Aubrey Jewel (AJ), Georgia Ann Moss (GAM), and Holly Nicole Semma (HNS). Read how these scholarships made a difference for our 2022 BIPOC Scholarship recipients!
1. In what ways was your SCBWI membership useful to you? (e.g., personal connections, networking, or how it enhanced your creative work in children’s literature)
PD: I enjoy meeting and getting to know all the creative people that are members and learning from their individual experiences. I especially love the author events that allow us to talk to people in person. Many of them have provided me with useful tips, resources, and contacts that as a new writer have been invaluable to me. I met my critique group through SCBWI-Michigan, and they have been very supportive of my writing efforts and have provided so many different perspectives (teacher, librarian, parent, illustrator, etc.) that have helped improve my work. I have also made some great friends who support and encourage me and keep me going even when I get writer's block.
AJ: The scholarship was extremely helpful for me to jump back into the mix of being a creative again and not “just a teacher/instructor.” I love being able to help others, but this gave me the opportunity where I could force myself to be creative again for my own work. It is also a bonus for my daughter to see me making art in this form instead of giving a lesson to her or someone else. It is also helping her to be creative in her own ways.
Seeing and reading the opportunities and what other folks are doing and creating is such a wonderful addition that the membership has really brought me. Because of this scholarship, I plan on continuing and am scheduling out conferences and connections.
GAM: My SCBWI membership/scholarship has been very rewarding. The website offers web meetings where you can brainstorm creative ideas and to connect with other writers. The website is awesome in assisting with author visits and book fairs. I’m so thankful for the scholarship, and I will be renewing my membership. (Woo-hoo, Georgia!)
HNS: SCBWI membership is useful to me in providing networking opportunities and creative inspiration! It has been delightful engaging with my colleagues as well as understanding their passions and pursuits. We are all connected through creativity and I am thankful for SCBWI to be a catalyst in facilitating this close-knit community.
2. What’s ahead in your creative work? We’d love to hear about it!
PD: I have published a picture book and a chapter book
since joining SCBWI, and I have two more picture books in the works. Once
those are completed and published, I hope to devote my time and energy
to writing a middle grade fantasy novel. I also have started on a young
adult novel that is making slow progress--I hope to finish it over the next
AJ: I’m now doing a series of illustrative work called Resilience, with the hope of empowering many, with the emphasis on women of color. I will be showcasing it in graphic novel form as well as a series of 7 illustrative portraits in a gallery showcase September of 2024 during the Kalamazoo Art Hop.
I also finished my story of Mootilda MooCow and Her Trip to the Moon. I’m working on trying to find the right place to get it published.
GAM: Currently working on a holiday book for emergent readers.
HNS: I am currently a Master's Candidate at the University of Michigan School of Public Health - Health Behavior & Health Education. I have just returned from a global internship at the Dubai Autism Center. I am interested in having an Arabic version of my upcoming children's books to best provide autism awareness to multicultural families!
Thank you, Pria, Aubrey, Georgia Ann, and Holly! Readers: If you’re like me, you found the imagination, dynamic energy, and drive among these four women awe-inspiring! May we welcome many more like-minded kidlit creatives to our regional chapter! Help us spread the word throughout our local communities!
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Isabel Estrada O'Hagin grew up in the desert borderlands of Arizona, dancing and singing her way through life. Always a dreamer, she blends her life experiences as a performing arts educator with her love of Mexican-American culture & folklore into stories. When she’s not writing, she loves to dance, cook, read, daydream, and play with her two gatitos, Dante and Cosmo. She also loves her volunteer work for SCBWI-Michigan as Outreach Coordinator and K.A.S.T. Co-Coordinator (A shout-out to my KAST friends—Where everyone’s a star!) LA MARIACHI is her debut storybook!