Shanlon Wu MFA '84:
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Hi Everyone—I’m Shan Wu—I’m on the Board of Trustees for Sarah Lawrence College, and a graduate of SLC’s Masters of Fine Arts Writing program. I want to say congratulations! And welcome to the Sarah Lawrence alumni association!

My time at SLC has a very special place in my heart—it came before going to law school and all the eventual hectic craziness that a law career steered me into—it was a time that allowed me to focus on my skills as a professional writer—skills that have served me well in both my legal career as well as my media career as a television commentator and frequent opinion piece contributor.

The graduate experiences at SLC vary of course from discipline to discipline but what they share in common is the College’s unparalleled commitment to teaching—teaching students what they need to enter into the professional world with well-honed skills that will allow them to thrive and adapt in the years to come in their chosen fields.

My friendships and relationships formed in my graduate school years at SLC have been deep and lifelong. For myself, I would say that these connections were deeper than many of my college ones perhaps in part because in graduate school my cohort was more self-selected to have common professional interests. I encourage you to stay in touch with each other—you will all be your own best support in the future!

At SLC, I was fortunate to study with wonderful teachers and writers like Joe Papaleo, Hyman Kleinman, Linsey Abrams, Ester Broner, Alan Gurganus, and Grace Paley, to name but a few. All of them were accomplished writers but also dedicated to the art of teaching—a rare combination. From them, I learned more than writing skills but also learned through observation what went into the life of a professional writer.

Like all great teachers, their wisdom transcended their particular fields and I will leave you with one of my favorite Grace Paley sayings, which is:

“Criticism should be listened to with an open mind and a closed heart.”

Now we used to debate some whether you can flip that and find it to be equally accurate but who am I to quarrel with an American master!

But I think Grace got this exactly right because as you go on into your work and lives you should always listen generously to what others have to say but never—never ever—let what others say make you question yourselves.

Good luck and congratulations to you and your loved ones!

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