Grad profile: Kelly Larkin Conway, Arts and Social Sciences
Fall Convocation 2013
Katherine Wooler - October 9, 2013
Every spring and fall, we profile just a few of our amazing graduates in our Convocation keepsake. We proudly feature these stories here on Dal News. Congrats to all our new graduates!
“Maybe I just have love-goggles on for English,” says Bachelor of Arts graduate Kelly Larkin Conway, who just completed her combined honours in English and creative writing.
Originally from Greenvale, P.E.I., Larkin Conway has enthusiastically embraced English studies at Dalhousie, despite not always taking to reading as a kid in the same way she was drawn to writing.
“English not only gives you a broad understanding of literature, culture and people, but it teaches you how to understand, synthesize and analyze texts in a very disciplined, rigorous way.”
She began her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie in 2009 after attending the University of Windsor for one semester. She left Dal for a year in the middle of her degree to work at a documentary film company in Toronto, but her desire to further her education prompted her return to Halifax in 2011. She is happy to have approached her degree at her own pace.
A former president of the Dalhousie English Society, Larkin Conway also spent time in Dalhousie’s English department as an administrative assistant. From May 2012 to August 2013, she helped students and professors with daily enquiries and also worked on developing the department’s website. “I loved working in a university because there is this sense of a greater project,” she says. “We’re all here to learn something.”
Mary Beth MacIsaac, head of undergraduate enquiries in the Department of English, says that Larkin Conway’s communication skills and sense of humour made her a pleasure to work with.
“What strikes me about Kelly is her enthusiasm when she talks about Dal’s English program and, particularly, the creative writing program,” says MacIsaac. “Whenever a student mentioned he or she was interested in creative writing or had a question about the program, Kelly would jump in to give advice, assurance and encouragement.”
“I love going to academic fairs,” says Larkin Conway, who made her academic focus modern and contemporary poetry. “I love chatting to prospective students because they’re so excited and I want to make sure they do everything that they’re at all interested in.”
A passion for writing
She has also worked as an editorial assistant for both Shambhala Sun and Mindful magazines and has been a Kripalu yoga instructor for four years.
“For me, doing yoga is really hard,” she admits, “because it forces me to pay attention. And, often when I pay attention I notice things that I don’t like, or things that make me feel uncomfortable… The same is true of writing, for me. I love writing, but it’s never been easy. I struggle with it. It’s uncomfortable. It’s challenging.”
Most recently, she has moved to Quebec City to work as a language assistant for grades seven and eight as part of the Odyssey Program.
“I feel a bit like I won the lottery,” she says. “Quebec City is beautiful and romantic and I’m excited to improve my French.”
This past spring, Larkin Conway attended a three-week writers’ workshop at the University of Iowa where she worked with poet Jim Galvin. This fall she will be doing private workshops with poet David Hickey after being awarded a grant from the Nova Scotia Talent Trust.
After living in many different Canadian cities, she says she is considering doing a Master of Arts or a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at a university in Western Canada.
“I know a lot of people that just think it’s about jumping through hoops. They say ‘you just get a degree to say you have a degree,’ but I don’t feel that way at all. I’ve learned so much,” she says. “It’s not just about a piece of paper; it’s also about self-improvement, or challenging yourself.”
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