JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A private university in Mississippi has awarded the third Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship, named for the author of “The Hate U Give” and other bestselling young adult novels, to a creative writer living in China.
Incoming freshman Dee Holden will receive four years of tuition, room and board at Thomas’ alma mater Belhaven University in Jackson.
Holden, a U.S. citizen living in Yantai, China, submitted creative writing samples to apply for the scholarship. The university said this week that Thomas took part in a video call April 25 to tell Holden about the award.
“When I read your portfolio, I was blown away. You are truly gifted. You are truly talented,” Thomas told Holden. “For me, the best types of portfolios are the ones where I’m reading them and I forget it’s a portfolio. I felt like I was reading a professionally published piece of work."
Holden said in a university news release that she was shocked to receive the news.
“Being awarded for something that is in a way so deeply personal is really encouraging and gave me new light, guiding me toward the path of a writer,” she said.
Belhaven established the scholarship to honor Thomas, a 2011 graduate who has written the young adult bestselling novels “The Hate U Give” and “On the Come Up” and “Concrete Rose.” She is also a producer on the film version of “On the Come Up.”
The scholarship has gone to one incoming freshman each year since 2020, but other applicants received partial scholarships.
“Dee demonstrated the qualities we look for in an Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship candidate: passion for writing, a distinct voice, the ability to realize complex and nuanced characters on the page and gutsy determination to pursue creative transparency,” said Randall Smith, professor and chairman of Creative Writing at Belhaven.