University of California, Riverside

UCR Newsroom

Graduate Student Wins Top Fiction Award

Graduate Student Wins Top Fiction Award

UCR’s Vanessa Hua wins first prize in Atlantic Monthly writing contest.

(March 19, 2008)

Vanessa HuaEnlarge

Vanessa Hua

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Vanessa Hua, a first-year student in UC Riverside’s Master of Fine Arts program, has won first prize in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly student fiction contest. The award comes with a $1,000 prize.

Hua’s entry, titled “What We Have is What We Need,” is the story of Lalo, a Mexican who crosses the border to join his parents in San Francisco. His father, a locksmith, is teaching him the trade when they make a shattering discovery on one of their house calls.

The short story also will be published in the spring issue of the journal American Literary Review, which will be available in May.

“We are extraordinarily proud of Vanessa’s winning this prize, the nation’s premier award for student writing,” said Charles Whitney, chair of the Department of Creative Writing. “Her entry was among more than a thousand the Atlantic Monthly received, and it’s a tribute to her talent and a feather in the cap of UCR’s MFA program.”

Susan Straight, professor of creative writing and an award-winning novelist, said she was thrilled by the announcement. “The Atlantic Prize is the most prestigious fiction prize a college student can get, and Vanessa is a wonderful writer,” she said.

Hua, a native of the Bay Area, graduated from Stanford University with a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in media studies. For the past decade she worked as a journalist at the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times and Hartford Courant. After graduating, she hopes to publish short stories and the novel she is writing, teach creative writing and freelance articles for newspapers and magazines.

“This award is a dream come true,” Hua said. “I am honored to be recognized by one of the top literary venues in the country. I have grown much as a writer in the MFA program at UCR.”


The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

More Information 

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Department Information

Media Relations
900 University Avenue
1156 Hinderaker Hall
Riverside, CA 92521

Tel: (951) 827-6397 (951) UCR-NEWS
Fax: (951) 827-5008

Related Links