Simon ’19 Earns van den Berg Award

Rollins’ Department of English has named Melissa Simon ’19 the recipient of the 2019 van den Berg Award.

Melissa Simon ’19 and Laura van den Berg ’05 Melissa Simon ’19 and Laura van den Berg ’05

Melissa Simon ’19, an English major at Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School, is making a habit of rubbing elbows with the world’s best writers.

This past February, Simon shared a stage with National Book Award nominee Daniel Gumbiner during the College’s 2019 Winter With the Writers literary festival. Thanks to the quality of her writing and her exemplary work as a festival intern, Simon has been awarded the English department’s 2019 van den Berg Award. Her prize: a trip to New York City to attend the 2019 National Book Award Finalists Reading next November.

Simon will accompany English professor and Winter With the Writers Director Carol Frost, who attends the readings to determine which two finalists will be invited to Rollins’ annual literary festival the following year.

In addition to earning a trip to the 2019 National Book Award Finalists Reading, Simon was presented a silver medal. In addition to earning a trip to the 2019 National Book Award Finalists Reading, Simon was presented a silver medal.

Simon’s winning piece was an experimental story written in 50-word mini-sagas.

“One of the judges told me that Melissa’s story opened his eyes to a new creative possibility” says Frost. “She was an exemplary intern, taking most of what Winter With the Writers offered and giving back generously to the festival, to the visiting writers, and to her peers.”

The van den Berg Award is named for Rollins English alumna Laura van den Berg ’05, an award-winning author of two short-story collections and a pair of novels. Her honors include the American Academy of Arts & Letters’ Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the O. Henry Award.

As a Rollins student, van den Berg was a two-time Winter With the Writers intern. She returned as a presenting writer during the 2014 festival season.