Awarding Creative Talent

Creative expression, fiction writing, imagination and creativity are unique talents that AUC nurtures, supports and recognizes. Through AUC’s liberal arts education system, students are taught to think outside the box, release their talent and potential, and look beyond the norm and be creative.

One of the many awards that recognize students’ exceptional talent and creativity is the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award, established in 1986 in memory of Madalyn Lamont, an instructor in the writing program, a poet and a women’s rights activist. The award recognizes students with creative skills in narrative, poetry and drama writing. This year, three talented students from different backgrounds and majors were recognized for their creativity and writing talent. Marwa Hanafi, pursuing a master’s degree in English and comparative literature; Nesma Goweily, graduate student in the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations; and Yousra Hamouda, undergraduate student studying mass communications at AUC, are the three winners of the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award for 2015.

From writing a short fiction story about the influence of authority on cultural norms and traditions, to writing about the tragic loss of a beloved professor, to writing about one’s own religious beliefs, these stories impressed the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award committee and were recognized for their originality.

A Person Who Influenced My Life (Aber Sabeel)

“I decided to write a story to face the traumatic incident of losing one of my distinguished professors at Ain Shams University,” said Hanafi, who previously won the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award four years ago. “It was really difficult for me to overcome my feelings of loss, but writing about her really helped.” Hanafi attended conferences and workshops at AUC, Cairo University, Ain Shams University and the American embassy on literature, creative writing, translation and education in general. She was also a fellow at the Salzburg Seminar Global for American Studies in Austria in September 2014. “I really appreciate the space AUC offers talented people to flourish. After graduation, I will consider taking writing more seriously and start writing my first novel.”

The Man Who Came from the Sea (Al Sayed Alazy Ata Men AlBahr)

Goweily’s short fiction story titled "The Man Who Came from the Sea" (translated from Arabic), resembles the pressure from authority and individuals in power to change the culture and beliefs of a community to satisfy their own interests. She wrote about a small, closed village by the sea, which was visited by a strange man who came from nowhere to impose his thoughts, beliefs and cultural habits onto this closed-community. “I am very delighted to have won this award,” said Goweily, who published her first travel writing book in October 2014 documenting her journey in Egypt after the January 25 Revolution. Reflecting on the importance of AUC’s education and the quality of her professors, Goweily acknowledges the role her professors played in nurturing her talent and giving her the appropriate training to utilize her creative skills. “AUC is a conducive learning environment, and I believe I have developed personally and intellectually inside this institution as a result of the long apprenticeship with my professors, especially Dr. Samia Mehrez [professor of Arab and Islamic civilizations at AUC],” added Goweily, who plans to pursue a career as a writer and instructor of creative writing. “The award made me feel more confident, and that is the true meaning of recognition.”

God’s Box (Sandook Allah)

The third entry that won the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award is a fictional story that was inspired by a real life situation. Hamouda’s piece is like a diary of a Muslim woman who converted to become an atheist while writing argumentative letters to God. Hamouda has been writing fiction for the last 13 years of her life, winning around 11 awards from reputable organizations in Egypt. “I am very happy with the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award because it is one of the very well-acknowledged awards that recognize talented writers,” said Hamouda, who also publishes her work in newspapers and magazines.

Keynote Speaker Azza Fahmy

Every year, the Madalyn Lamont Literary Award invites influential female speakers during the award ceremony held in the spring. This year, the guest speaker was Azza Fahmy, renowned jewelry designer, who delivered a lecture titled, “Creativity and Artisanship: An Artist’s Testimony.” Fahmy was born and raised in Sohag, Upper Egypt. She graduated in interior design from the Faculty of Fine Arts and studied jewelry craft at the City of London Polytechnic before becoming the first female apprentice to several of the best jewelers in Cairo. She now makes and markets her own jewelry internationally.

List of Previous Distinguished Women Speakers

Hoda Elsadda, chair in the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at the University of Manchester
Leyla Doss, Egyptian activist
Suaad al-Sabah, Kuwaiti poet
Mona Amyuni, Lebanese professor of comparative literature
Mohsina Tawfiq, Egyptian actress
Arundhati Ghose, Indian ambassador
Shahira Mehrez, Egyptian designer
Doris Shoukri, professor of English and comparative literature at AUC