Cherline Bazile, an MFA student in the Hellen Zell Writers Program, has become U-M's 10th recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. The merit-based fellowship provides up to $90,000 for immigrants or the children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate studies in the United States. The program draws nearly 1,800 applications annually for just 30 fellowships.
"My mentor once said to me about a writing career, “If you can do anything else in the world, do that thing. But I suspect you can’t.” Now, I attend the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. I feel blessed to be living my dream. MFAs in fiction generally have a workshop model, which favors the short story. At times, I’ve put aside the novel I came in with and wrote short stories just to fit in and make class time feel valuable. And sometimes, like now, I giggle at myself for feeling so undervalued because of what can be a silly formal distinction. It has always been about the act of writing, the joy of capturing what matters to people. But it can be challenging not to feel like an imposter, or like the work I am writing isn’t good enough to make the cut. I’m trying to adjust my thinking and focus less on how my work is received and more about the work itself, how to deepen it, how to make my characters shine in their fullness. I’m trying to make myself laugh and cry so that one day when you hold my book in your hand you might, too." -Cherline Bazile, 2019
Cherline Bazile grew up in South Florida, the child of a Haitian asylum-seeker. She attended Harvard where she received her BA in English. While at Harvard she studied abroad at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Cambridge, where she studied screenwriting. She was a mentor with Strong Women, Strong Girls and the Future Leaders Foundation, and director of the Black Arts Festival in Cambridge, MA.