“Nora-ites” Unite to Fund Mentorship Award

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For scores of alumni who have made careers in the world of journalism and publishing, and for many more who went on to work in other fields as better writers and readers than they would have been, taking a class with Nora Magid, a lecturer in the English department from the mid-1970s until her death in 1991, was a formative experience—and a highlight of their years at Penn.

Not every student responded to Magid’s style, but for those who did she was a devoted editor, cheerleader, and unofficial agent, ever ready with advice for aspiring writers and editors on where to find work and, more often than not, the name of a former student who could give it. Now a group of self-described “Nora-ites” has gotten together to honor that networking effort and extend it to current and future Penn students.

The $1,000 Nora Magid Mentorship Prize will go to a senior “who shows exceptional ability and promise in non-fiction writing and editing, and who would benefit most from the combined mentorship of Nora’s network of former students and their colleagues,” say the organizers. The prize money will be used to cover expenses for trips to New York, Washington, and elsewhere to develop professional contacts at magazines, newspapers, and publishing houses. “In this way, the student will get the kind of quality mentorship during the last semester of college that Nora’s students received when she was alive. After graduating and taking a first job, the prize-winner will be expected to become part of the network of Nora-ites and help other graduating seniors.” 

Former students had long desired to honor Magid’s memory. The mentorship-prize scheme was hatched at a luncheon held at the Penn Club in New York to mark the 10th anniversary of her death. Taking the lead in setting up the award, which is administered through the Philadelphia Foundation, were Eliot Kaplan C’78, editorial talent director for Hearst Magazines, and Stephen Fried C’79, author most recently of The New Rabbi (excerpted in the September/October 2002 Gazette and recently out in paperback in an expanded edition with a new afterword).

The first award will be presented in February, and applications are being accepted through December 1. Applicants are asked to submit a brief proposal (two typed pages maximum), two journalistic non-fiction writing samples, a résumé, and a sealed recommendation from the Penn faculty member most familiar with their writing.

The winner will be chosen by a scholarship advisory committee of former students. A list of committee members and other information on submissions, volunteering to serve as a mentor, and donating to the fund are available at (www.Nora Prize.com).


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