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Meet Luna Hou, ECL major and winner of the competitive One Teen Story fiction contest. 

For Hou, majoring in English was an easy choice:

“I’ve always loved to read and write—I was one of those kids who always carried around a book in their bag, and I grew up telling people my dream job was to become an author. So, when I got to college, majoring in English felt like a given. There weren’t many avenues for me to get involved in creative writing at my high school, so I was super excited to begin taking workshop classes at UNC! It’s been so rewarding to be able to devote more time to this passion in an academic setting, surrounded by so many insanely talented, inspiring people.”

She attributes the ECL major with making her a better writer and thinker:

“It sounds obvious, but every ECL class I’ve taken has challenged me in some way to become a better writer—which, crucially, necessitates becoming a better thinker. Every reading and class discussion I’ve engaged in has challenged me to view the world and my place in it a little differently—to empathize with both experiences very different from my own and stories that have made me feel seen. Creative writing classes specifically also provide such a unique space for you to learn about yourself through your personal and artistic obsessions—insights I’ve found to be invaluable.”

Her writing skills have paid off, as she won first place in this year’s One Teen Story fiction contest. The story she submitted was from a creative writing class at UNC:

“I wrote the story I submitted, ‘Railroads,’ in Dr. Tucker’s Intro to Fiction Writing class, and I actually found out about this opportunity from her as well. On the last day of class, she led a discussion on how to begin publishing our work and shared with us a number of resources I still refer back to all the time. One of the documents she left us with was a selection of literary journals that feature undergraduate writing, one she’d personally curated, and One Teen Story was on that list. All that to say that a) everyone should take a class with Dr. Tucker, and b) in general, the most valuable resource I’ve found when searching for opportunities to publish my work has been the knowledge of the creative writing professors I’ve had the honor of learning from—all of whom are so generous with the advice they’re willing to share!

I applied for the One Teen Story fiction contest last November, and found out I won in my age category (Ages 18-19) at the tail end of this February. “Railroads” [is] slated to be published as its own little booklet very soon! In addition, once “Railroads” is published, I will receive $500 and twenty-five contributor copies of the magazine featuring my work. It honestly still doesn’t feel real! I remember hitting the “Submit” button thinking there was no way I’d win, given how prestigious One Story is (they publish such amazing writing!); I just wanted to be able to say I’d tried, given it was the last year I’d be eligible to enter. Now, obviously, I’m so grateful I gave myself that chance!”

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