Michelle Chen '23
Congratulations to Michelle Chen, a senior English major and creative writing minor who recently won third prize for the Young Poets Network’s “Your Name is a Poem” Challenge for her poem, “Name Games.” Inspired by a translation challenge set by Khairani Barokka, poet and editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, “Name Games” was Michelle’s poetic response to the question, “How can the roots of your name inspire new writing?”
Michelle Chen was born in Singapore and spent her early years in China before immigrating to the U.S. at the age of four. Over the course of her undergraduate years as an English major and Creative Writing minor, she interned in the Departments of English at both SBU and UMass Amherst, creating social media content, speaking at events, and documenting and interviewing guests and professors. Additionally, she interned for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project, the Office of State Senator Jessica Ramos, and the Law Office of Elektra B. Yao.
Balancing her time as both a transfer and commuter student from Queens, as well as an unintentional super-super senior with a part-time job as a Key Food cashier, hasn't been easy! Yet Michelle’s newest roles as a AAPI Mentorship Network mentee, where she facilitates group discussions relating to identity and health for young people across the nation, and Communications Director of the Inspiring Girls Expeditions Alumni Advisory Board, both provide inspiration and connectivity for her future humanities career.
In the Department of English, Michelle is currently working on two independent studies with Professors Benedict Robinson and E.K. Tan, with the intention of authoring and publishing a research paper, as well as creating a series of personal and critical essays inclusive of creative writing and multigenre experimentation. She was invited to participate in Prof. Tan's English PhD seminar, “Traveling People, Traveling Cultures,” which has been a source of encouragement and support for her academic pursuits. After graduating this spring, Michelle hopes to continue building experience in creative and professional writing, academia, teaching, and publishing and will apply to SBU’s English MAT program. At Stony Brook, she received the Upstander Award for completing Center for Prevention and Outreach training last year. Michelle also recently received a $500 grant from the AAPI Mentorship Network for the Association for Asian Studies Conference 2023.
Michelle is a strong advocate for the power of creative writing and literary studies to illuminate unforeseen truths, reduce prejudice, improve mental, physical, and emotional health, and preserve the details of life. She hopes that students are inspired by her experiences to expand their involvement beyond their own campus and home communities.
"I think I've always enjoyed transcending the spatial, temporal, and cultural circumstances one is born into,” Michelle said. “Receiving an international award has encouraged me to continue exploring my passions beyond what even literature can imagine. English and Creative Writing are the past, present, and future of our society, allowing us to understand people from all walks of life."