GVFaces: Grand Valley graduate earns PEN America Fellowship honor

October 26, 2021 (Volume 45, Number 5)
Article by Brian Vernellis

Clarice Thomas stands in a hallway with her hands in her suit pockets

Clarice Thomas, ’08, ’10, is one of 10 authors selected for PEN America’s Writing for Justice Fellowship.

Photo Credit: courtesy photo

Grand Valley graduate Clarice Thomas, ’08, ’10, is one of 10 authors selected for PEN America’s 2021-22 Writing for Justice Fellowship.

The PEN America Fellowship supports authors to create written works of lasting merit that illuminate critical issues related to mass incarceration and catalyze public debate.

“It is an honor for me to receive the PEN fellowship,” said Thomas. “As an emerging voice for people who experience social injustice, this opportunity is timely and important." 

Currently a faculty member at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri, Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and master’s degree in education from Grand Valley. 

After earning a doctorate from Georgia State, Thomas joined the St. Louis faculty as an assistant professor in African American Studies and director of the School of Education’s “Shut It Down” program, which provides training to educators on implicit bias and racial equity. 

The PEN America Fellowship will help Thomas’ book project, “Writing Home,” under the direction of assigned mentor, poet zakia henderson-brown. 

The book will focus on the personal experiences of Thomas’ grandfather and uncle and provide the backdrop toward her examination of African Americans and the criminal justice system.

At St. Louis University, her research focuses on formerly incarcerated individuals while addressing inequality and injustice among minority communities.

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This article was last edited on October 26, 2021 at 11:57 a.m.

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