July 13, 2010
Now on the Write Path! La Salle University’s Queen Muse Receives Scholarships to Help Her Reach Her Dream
of Being a Writer
For a time, Queen Muse forgot her dreams.
Working full-time, caring for a disabled mother, and helping to raise two younger siblings had diverted Muse from her classes at La Salle for more than six years. The dream of being a writer seemed more distant when she was laid off the week before Christmas, 2008, and then had her first child.
“I worried about how I would provide for my family without a job,” said Muse. “I went home feeling defeated while carrying five years worth of desktop knick knacks in a cardboard box. I am a spiritual person so I prayed and asked God to tell me what to do. The next day I received a letter from La Salle University prompting me to register for classes. This is when the light bulb turned on for me. I remembered all of my dreams and how they could become reality if I went back to school.”
Not only has Muse, 26, returned to attend the University full-time, but she recently received several grants and scholarships, including those from the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ) and the Mary & Robert Dean Scholarship from La Salle’s English Department for students seeking careers as writers.
Being a writer has been her dream since adolescence, when she wrote poems, then wrote short stories, and then novellas. Then she discovered another outlet: journalism.
“My view of non-fiction and hard news writing had always been a negative one. It was my understanding that this form of writing stripped a writer of any possibility to display creativity. I soon learned just how wrong my assumption was,” said Muse, who is majoring in communication.
“I learned that with journalism I not only have creative license, but also an opportunity to make a difference. It was journalists who told the riveting human stories behind hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and countless other landmark events in history, mobilizing others to act. It is now my goal to join these great reporters,” said Muse. “The techniques I learned in my journalism course have helped me to hone my writing skills and take them to new levels.”
Last year, she joined the Collegian, La Salle’s student newspaper, and wrote more than 40 articles. This year she’ll be assisting with copy editing and photography.
“I really got to know Queen well in journalism class with Professor Huntly Collins. This coincided with her wanting to write for Collegian,” said Vinny Vella, a La Salle junior who will be editor of the school paper this year. “I noticed in conversations that she’s very dedicated to journalism. She likes to write, and, more importantly, she’s good with people. She knows how to talk to people, knows how to be sensitive to (delicate) issues, which is not the easiest thing to handle. I expect nothing but good things from her.”
In her recommendation letter for Muse’s PABJ scholarship, Collins, a former reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote, “Of my 30-plus students, Queen has been a standout. She pays attention to the news; she always has ideas for stories; her news instincts are superb; on her own, she takes practice tests and does practice exercises offered in our textbook but not required by me; she completes her work on time; and her copy is accurate, fair and well-written. Most notably, Queen brings to journalism a keen sense of human triumph and tragedy, which she often communicates in finely-crafted descriptive writing.”
At first, Muse thought she wouldn't fit in with the Collegian staff because she is older than most of the students there, but once she established herself, she said, “I fit in like a peg!”
And after having the luxury of time for writing poetry and fiction, Muse now says, “Deadlines are my best friend. The more pressure, the harder and better I work.”
“My favorite works for the Collegian were three articles I wrote about the earthquake in Haiti. I enjoyed taking part in La Salle's effort to keep the issues in Haiti in the forefront of our news -- even though I misquoted Professor Collins in one article, much to my embarrassment!”
Muse also freelances for WHYY, Philadelphia’s National Public Radio station. She is also an active member of the Association of Women in Communication at La Salle, and recently served as an official correspondent at the Penn Relay Carnival 2010. She is also a member of the judicial board at La Salle.
“Throughout this process, my dreams have changed a bit,” said Muse, whose sister graduated from La Salle in 2008. “My writing leads me from being an aspiring fiction writer to being an aspiring journalist. But one thing remains the same: nothing can compare to the value of an afternoon spent with an ink pen, a blank composition book, and time to just write.”