University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Senior Alumna in the House

Gail Sheehy talking with a UVM student in Living Learning
Photograph by Tomoki Nomura '20

DEPARTMENTS/
THE GREEN

Senior Alumna in the House

It takes no small amount of courage to live in a college dorm nearly sixty years after you’ve graduated. But acclaimed author and journalist Gail Sheehy ’58 did just that this spring, when she returned to campus for a two-week residency to work with faculty and students, and yes, live alongside them in GreenHouse, a residential learning community in University Heights South.

Thirteen lucky students were selected for a five-workshop series with Sheehy on long-form literary and investigative journalism. “They have been thrilling,” says Sheehy. The students ranged from first-years to seniors and have all previously published work (about half write for campus
publications like The Vermont Cynic or
The Water Tower).

In the first session, students broke into small groups to talk through their story ideas. “You could hear these hoots and hollers and laughter and it was so exciting, the explosion of creativity going on,” says the alumna. "They had just been given the freedom to think about something outside their normal schoolwork that is a passion or question that they’ve had.”  These self-selected topics included Vermont’s opioid crisis and the experiences of AmeriCorps volunteers. 

Luis Vivanco, anthropology professor and co-director of UVM’s Humanities Center, collaborated with Sheehy to design the residency, which also included workshops with faculty. “We want to change the discourse around humanities, from ‘why would you major in that’ to ‘you should major in that,’” says Vivanco, “and Gail is Exhibit A of the success you can have as a humanities major.”

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