Voruganti wins poetry scholarship

Emily Shi and Nathan Zelizer

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Rather than continue at the school for her senior year, Priyanka Voruganti (11) will spend her final year of high school nestled between two lakes in rural Michigan, where she will pursue her passion for creative writing at the renowned Interlochen Arts Academy

Voruganti is among nine students selected to attend the academy next year out of 200 applicants.

At the beginning of the application process, Voruganti had no idea the scholarship was for a full academic year; she thought that she was applying to a three-week summer program at Interlochen. She only realized that she had applied to the boarding school when she received an email from the institution notifying her that she was already being considered for the scholarship and encouraging her to complete the application, she said.

“I was at an impasse. I didn’t go into the application process wanting to attend a boarding school, which has been a scary concept for me in the past,” Voruganti said. “At the same time, I thought about the possibility of winning a scholarship to an amazing writing school, so I decided applying could be a crazy, random thing I should just try to do, and it worked out really well.”

After being accepted to Interlochen with a partial scholarship, Voruganti chose to attend the boarding school her senior year because of the school’s specialized creative writing program, which has the potential to hone Voruganti’s writing technique and help her determine if she wants to pursue writing in the future, she said.

English teacher Sarah McIntyre taught Voruganti during her freshman and sophomore years at the school and has observed her writing grow incredibly, she said. “She deals with complexity well and is unafraid of thorny ethical questions,” McIntyre said.

“She just has a way of writing about every little thing – no matter how intense or inconsequential it may seem, that manages to point out its beauty,” Bebe Steel (12), a friend of Voruganti, said.

At the school, Voruganti writes feminist poetry for Folio 51 and recites poems in the Poetry Out Loud Club. President of Poetry Out Loud and Editor-in-Chief of Folio 51 Claire Yoo (12) always sees Voruganti’s passion in her vivid poetry, she said.

In class, Voruganti gained experience collaborating with other authors through  the Performance Workshop course. Theater teacher Benjamin Posner said he appreciates Voruganti’s artistic vision in writing as a medium for theater and willingness to participate in class. “She’s one of the first people who will take out her computer and start jotting down ideas when we’re preparing a performance,” Posner said.

Charlotte Pinney (12), a close friend of Voruganti believes that writing is an outlet for Voruganti to help articulate her feelings, she said. “When you become an artist as an adolescent in high school it takes a long time to get an authentic, honest body of work, but I think Priyanka’s talent is that everything she writes comes from a really, really honest place,” Pinney said.

“I don’t even know if creative writing is something I want to do in college but I love it so much that I think I owe myself one year of an education that is focused on that,” Voruganti said.