CHESTERTOWN, Md.  (WJZ)— The Sophie Kerr Prize is the largest student literary award in the nation. Every year, one student from Washington College receives the prestigious honor.

Gigi Barnett introduces us to this year’s recipient.

Over the last four years, the literary house at Washington College was like a second home for Katie Manion. It’s where she received some inspiration for characters in her collection of short stories.

“It’s almost a love/hate relationship because I could get a great idea and I might not be sitting down somewhere that I can write it down,” Manion said.

But this week in New York, Manion’s stories captured the attention of judges for the Sophie Kerr Prize. She walked away with the prestigious award, beating out 35 other student writers.

“People have told me, watching my reaction that I ‘Oh, you looked so calm and then you looked so shocked. You seemed so surprised.’ I was,” Manion said.

The award’s namesake, Sophie Kerr was born and raised on the Eastern Shore, not far from Washington College.  She became a prolific and well-paid writer and left the bulk of her estate to Washington College, which created the prize in Kerr’s honor.

Now Manion, a native of Clarksville, receives more than $55,000 thanks to Kerr’s contribution and with it the opportunity to focus on her work and not a job search.

“This gives me some financial security that I can apply sooner and not have to take that long of a break to save up,” Manion said.

Manion says the next step now is to take some time off, apply for graduate school and continue writing.  She says the New York Times Bestsellers list could also be in her future as well.

If you’d like to read an excerpt from Manion’s collection of short stories, click here.


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