English major Derek Heckman named UI's first Beinecke scholar

Jun 05, 2013
Heckman in front of the Old Capitol

Derek Heckman, a University of Iowa junior from Peoria, Ill., has been named a 2013 Beinecke Scholar. One of 20 students to receive the fellowship this year, he's the UI’s first Beinecke winner since the university became eligible to nominate students for national competition in 2010.

Heckman, two-time recipient of the Scott A. Anderson Memorial Scholarship for creative writing, is a student in the Creative Writing Track within the Department of English. He also is completing an Undergraduate Certificate in Writing through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Frank Magid Undergraduate Writing Center and was able to further develop his perspective as a participant in the Irish Writing Program at University College Dublin in 2012.

Heckman currently serves as the editor-in-chief of earthwords, the university’s oldest undergraduate literary magazine, where he formerly worked as the publication's playwriting editor.

Ed Folsom, Roy J. Carver Professor of American Literature and the co-director of www.whitmanarchive.org, describes Heckman’s writing as “accomplished and impressive,” a perspective echoed by other faculty mentors and fellow undergraduate writers.

Since its inception in 1975, the Beinecke Scholarship Foundation has engaged and supported more than 500 highly motivated students in their pursuit of advanced degrees in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Each Beinecke Scholar receives $34,000 to support graduate work in their chosen fields.

“We are really excited about Derek’s success in this year’s competition and about the our recent inclusion in the Beinecke community," says Kelly Thornburg, fellowships directory for the UI Honors Program. She welcomes the challenge and support the scholarship offers Honors’ student scholars.

“Our students are making real contributions to their disciplines as undergraduates, conducting advanced research and engaging in complex creative work they want to take to the next level. Fellowship processes like the Beinecke encourage students to consider what those next steps could be and what they will need to take them. Derek’s early and thorough investment in his craft is a great example of what students can achieve at Iowa.”

Upon graduation in spring 2014, Heckman will utilize financial support provided by the Beinecke Foundation to pursue a Master of Fine Arts degree in fiction.