Interlochen Arts Academy announces winner of Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition

Elizabeth Keller of Vancouver, Washington, is the recipient of a full-tuition scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy as a creative writing major for the 2021-2022 school year.

Elizabeth Keller, a high school sophomore in Vancouver, Washington, currently attending Davidson Academy Online, has been named the winner of the 2021 Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition. Applicants from 18 states and three countries competed for the prestigious award, which encompasses a full-tuition scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Academy during the 2021-2022 school year as part of the Academy’s celebrated creative writing program.

“I’m very excited to join Interlochen’s community of writers and creative people,” Keller said. “I can’t wait to have the time to immerse myself in writing, grow as a writer, and explore.” Keller discovered the Arts Academy when she studied creative writing at Interlochen Arts Camp in 2019. “I think I learned more in those three weeks than in the entire year,” she said.

Students in grades 8-11 from across the United States and from as far away as Hong Kong competed for the award. Applicants submitted writing samples in at least two of the following genres: fiction, poetry, personal essay or memoir, screenwriting, playwriting, and hybrid genre. Keller was selected based on the overall strength of her portfolio.

“Elizabeth’s prose and poetry reflect that the creation of art is a parallel narrative to whatever is unfolding on the page, which heightens the work’s cumulative drama,” said Joe Sacksteder, Interlochen's director of creative writing. “Readers who spend time with Elizabeth’s spellbinding words begin to see traces of their influence beyond the margins of the page. Her writing doesn’t just make one think things, but rather has the potential to change the way that readers see the world. I’m excited to work with Elizabeth, and for the new possibilities her writing will reveal to our artistic community.”

Thanks to generous grants from the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, the Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Competition Scholarship has made it possible for young writers of great promise to study creative writing at Interlochen since 2001. In turn, Interlochen’s creative writing program has helped hundreds of young writers find their unique voice and expand their understanding of the craft of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting.

Interlochen's one-of-a-kind creative writing program provides expert instruction to high school writers from around the world in an ideal setting. Students benefit from small class sizes and a faculty of experienced and dedicated teachers who are also professional writers. Faculty provide individualized mentorship to students in building portfolios, submitting to contests, applying to college, and honing performance skills for public reading opportunities throughout the year.

Previous recipients of the Virginia B. Ball Creative Writing Scholarship Competition Scholarship have gone on to earn degrees from Cornell, Yale, Princeton, and the University of Michigan. They have won or been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Norman Mailer Award for Fiction, the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize, Juxtaprose’s Short Fiction Contest, Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions, and the Pushcart Prize. They have published books and have been featured in a variety of publications including The Adroit Journal, Anomaly, the Bennington Review, Black Warrior Review, Entropy, The Offing, Poetry London, and the Saranac Review. Twenty creative writing students at Interlochen have been named Presidential Scholars in the Arts, one of the most prestigious awards for high school graduates.

To learn more about the creative writing program at Interlochen Arts Academy, visit