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Student Stories

Camille Acker

“I am a multi-genre prose writer who explores the space between what's expected of Black women and girls and who they authentically are. That space embraces the absurd, contains the unconventional, and never shies away from writing about Black women's bodies, Black women's desires, and Black women's fears. My work is set in my hometown of Washington, DC but I had to go to southern New Mexico to finally write about the place where I grew up. WIth the encouragement of the faculty and my fellow students, I was able to put on the page the people and places that meant so much to me. I had wanted to write since I was a girl but I became a writer at NMSU.”

Camille Acker is the author of the critically acclaimed short story collection Training School for Negro Girls published by The Feminist Press. She grew up in Washington, D.C and holds a B.A. in English from Howard University and an M.F.A in Creative Writing from New Mexico State University. Her writing has received support from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Voices of Our Nations Arts, and Millay Colony for the Arts, among others. As a creative writing teacher, she has advised and mentored students across the United States including at Haverford College, New Mexico State University, Tin House Writers Workshop, University of the Arts, Chicago Writers Studio, and Blue Stoop in Philadelphia. She was a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship in 2020 and a Fellowship from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2022. Her work has been published in The New York Times Book Review, Publishers Weekly, Electric Literature, as an Audible Original, and in the anthology On Girlhood: 15 Stories From the Well-Read Black Girl Library. A novel and new short story collection are under contract at Penguin Random House. She lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Carrie Grinstead

“I live in LA with my husband, Daniel, a rat terrier named Pickle, and a chiweenie named Georgette. My horse, Panda, has a nice big stall in the hills a few freeway exits away. I've had stories in Tin House, The Masters Review Anthology, Stonecoast Review, and other journals. My first collection, I Have Her Memories Now, was a finalist in multiple contests before winning the Howling Bird Press Fiction Prize in 2022."
"I got my MFA from NMSU in 2010. My mentor, Robert Boswell, taught me so much, but the most important thing I ever heard him say was that you have to turn your worst work into your best. Getting a book of stories over the finish line took a long time and involved an absurd amount of rejection, but during the MFA program I'd established a habit of writing every day and a willingness to write dozens of drafts if I needed to. I developed a real love for the effort of writing, even if the outcome wasn't always what I'd hoped for. And I became a better reader, and a better friend. NMSU was an amazing community, and I've been able to carry it with me ever since.”

Carrie Grinstead grew up in central Wisconsin and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Daniel, and their dogs. Her horse lives nearby. Her short stories have appeared in   Tin HouseThe Masters Review Anthology,   Joyland, and elsewhere. Her book I Have Her Memories Now was published in 2022.

Pardeep Toor

“I became a more confident reader and writer during my time at NMSU. I learned how to slow down, hone in at the sentence level, and be a more critical editor of my own work. These are skills that I've applied in my life beyond just my writing. Additionally, NMSU gave me time to exclusively focus on my writing. I appreciated this time and used it to outline and lay the foundation of many fiction and non-fiction writing projects.”

Pardeep Toor grew up in Brampton, ON and currently lives in Colorado. His writing has appeared in the Best Debut Short Stories 2021: The PEN America Dau Prize, Catapult, Electric Literature, Longreads, Midwest Review, Great River Review, and Southern Humanities Review. More information: and  @pardeeptoor

Ramona Reeves

“While working toward my MFA at NMSU, I wrote the first few stories in the manuscript that eventually won a prize. The book that resulted,  It Falls Gently All Around and Other Stories, is a collection of interrelated stories. Many of the books I read, as well as the instruction I received at NMSU, helped guide me during those years of drafting my book post-MFA. One thing I would tell any writer starting out is to build personal connections, both near and far, in the literary community. The road to publication is unpredictable, but belonging to a community of writers can provide critical support for sustaining a writing practice.”

Ramona Reeves grew up in Alabama and currently lives with her wife in Texas. Her linked short story collection,  It Falls Gently All Around and Other Stories (published by University of Pittsburgh Press), won the 2022 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. She has been awarded an AROHO fellowship, received a residency at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, won the Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize for a short story, served as an associate fiction editor for Kallisto Gaia Press, and is a Community of Writers alum. Her stories and essays have appeared in  The Southampton ReviewBayou MagazinePembrokeNew SouthSuperstition ReviewTexas Highways and others.