Student Spotlight: Samantha Kathryn O'Brien

The general conceit of an MFA — having funded time to focus on your writing — has always seemed too good to be true. After graduating from Amherst College in Massachusetts I worked a lot of different jobs and felt sad about relegating my writing to the margins of my days. I moved to Alaska and started working in a domestic violence shelter. I would spend my nights writing and eventually decided I wanted to take it more seriously. I decided to try for Cornell.  I’m currently tending to the beginnings of a novel. I’m enjoying the process of following a voice and seeing where the character takes me. My writing returns to questions of the body — and this project specifically takes the body as a site of strangeness as its focus. My undergrad research was on prostitution laws, and I've long been curious about how to write fiction about sex work in a non-polemical way. 

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Headshot of MFA fiction student Samantha Kathryn O'Brien in a brightly colored zip-up jacket