Published: March 04, 2009
Yuly Restrepo ’06 originally came to the U.S. from her native Colombia
with intentions of becoming a professional Spanish-English translator.
She never anticipated that a talent for writing would put her on the
path to literary scholarship.
Restrepo, a graduate of UT’s
writing program, was recently granted a fellowship to the Iowa Writer’s
Workshop at the University of Iowa. The master of fine arts program is
one of the most prestigious writing programs in the country, boasting 16
Pulitzer Prize winners and literary heavyweights like John Irving and
Flannery O’Connor among its alumni.
“Honestly, I wasn’t at all
sure that I would get accepted,” Restrepo said. “I almost had to read
the acceptance letter three times before it sunk in.”
Fellowship grants Restrepo $17,000 toward the first year of the
University’s MFA program. In exchange for the financial aid, she is
required to work for the university and, in two years, she is to have
completed either a novel or a collection of short stories.
writer of multiple talents, Restrepo’s specialty is in fiction short
stories and poetry. She credits her UT education with helping to shape
Restrepo, a native of Medellin, Colombia, transferred
to UT after first arriving in the U.S. to attend St. Petersburg
College, where she studied Spanish to English language translation. She
took a class in creative writing and was encouraged to pursue a writing
“The professors (at UT) were always very encouraging and
responsive to my questions,” Restrepo said. “They always gave very
specific feedback about my writing so that I could clearly see what I
needed to work on.”
UT’s writing program covers a broad range of
specific writing disciplines. Students can focus on creative writing
(fiction, poetry and other imaginative forms), professional writing
(journalism, public relations, advertising, and information design for
technical communication), and writing for the media.
Birnbaum, one of three UT writing professors who recommended Restrepo
for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, described Restrepo’s writing abilities
“She comes from Colombia, and the best of
her stories show us how disruptive the social ills have been in the
lives of ordinary families there,” Birnbaum wrote. “She is able to
conceive a fresh idea for a story, to shape it with tension and texture,
and to bring to it her graceful, descriptive language.”
graduating, Restrepo has continued to write while working as a
translator for a St. Petersburg multimedia production company.