Caitlin McCormick ’21 was selected to receive the eighth annual Donald E. Axinn Foundation/Anna Quindlen Award for Creative Writing. The $25,000 prize, awarded annually by the Joan F. and Donald E. Axinn Foundation to a graduating senior, supports creative writing. It is presented in recognition of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anna Quindlen ’74 for her outstanding contribution to American life and letters and her sustained support for the education and development of young people.
“Barnard writers, whether alumnae or professors or classmates, are directly responsible for my writing,” said McCormick of receiving the prize. “They taught me that the stories I wanted to tell mattered, that my instincts could be trusted, and that I could call myself a writer. This award feels like validation of my own place in my most coveted club, and also a shining green ‘KEEP GOING!’ sign.”
McCormick is a history major with a concentration in labor history. Her literary influences include Truman Capote, Carmen Maria Machado, Richard Siken, Jhumpa Lahiri, Raymond Carver, Meg Wolitzer, and Frank O’Hara. For her senior thesis, she wrote about how the power held by Big Tech campuses, like Facebook and Google, compares with that of 20th-century North American company towns. After graduation, she plans to find a full-time job in political communications, finish Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, and, slowly but surely, write a novel.
“I usually worked two to three jobs at any given time during college, so to have that validation come in the form of financial encouragement is really a dream come true,” McCormick said. “Lately, I find myself wishing I could bottle the feeling this prize has given me and give it to other people I love.”
The award committee included professors Jennifer Finney Boylan, Yvette Christiansë, Christopher Baswell, Timea Szell ’75, Margaret Vandenburg, and Alexandra Watson. Nia Judelson ’18, the Drew Barnard Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in English, coordinated the contest.