Full Service Westside

For seventeen-year-old Rachel Wagner, writing has always played a big role in her life. Ever since Wagner’s mother brought home her first laptop and showed her then five-year-old daughter how to open a Word document, Wagner has written countless stories. Over the years, Wagner honed her technique and developed her craft. Though still young, Wagner has already earned recognition for her work, winning the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa’s Gold Key Award for Creative Short Story.
Though Wagner entered the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa’s Scholastic Art and Writing Contest last year (where she earned a Silver Key Award for Creative Short Story) she wanted to try writing a very different kind of story this year. Reflecting on her work, Wagner explained that this year, she composed a creative non-fiction story, “Bye-Oh, Baby,” where she, “played around a lot with timelines. . . it’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before.” In the piece, Wagner explores the effects of dementia on people and their loved ones. What begins as a ten-minute conversation between Wagner and her grandmother becomes a complex series of flashbacks to Wagner’s grandfather and examines how dementia influenced many aspects of all of their lives.
Wagner felt elated to earn a Gold Key Award for her story this year. She shared, “I’m really excited. I really hoped that I would do better than last year.” In addition to her pride in winning, Wagner also expressed surprise and gratitude that so many of her teachers and friends have requested to read her story and have given her positive feedback on it.
As Wagner continues to write, she looks forward to using her passion and her skills to become first a high school teacher and later a university English professor. “I want to do what my teachers do for me for everyone,” she said. With such a bright future and so many opportunities available to her through the Scholastic Art and Writing Contest, Wagner’s writing will help her attain this goal and many others.

Full Service Westside