Gabler Promise Scholars Class of 2021-22

At a recent showcase hosted by the UC Santa Barbara Writing Program, ten UCSB Promise Scholars shared emotional, inspiring excerpts from their year-long writing projects in the Gabler Promise Scholars Writing Program.

The program, funded by a generous gift from UCSB Trustee Elizabeth Gabler ‘77 and her husband Lee, is designed to help undergraduate students from historically under-resourced communities and underrepresented minority students succeed at UCSB. The students worked alongside Writing Program faculty mentors Professor Vickie Vértiz and Professor Patricia Fancher to develop strategies for writing effectively in personal, creative, academic, and civic contexts.

The Promise Scholars reflected on their struggles and experiences growing up and produced moving pieces to explore and form their own individual identities. Wenn Ortuno-Cortez wrote three poems about the her home, both beautiful and challenging, growing up in Michoacán, Mexico. Juan Gudiel produced a memoir, “Make Something Out of Nothing,” which reflects on his experience in foster care, losing his mother and becoming a father. Daian Martinez’s project, “Gary is a Sloth” is a short narrative of a character who is often misunderstood, and is able to convey self love and pride in his own identity by the end of the story.

This year, Wissam Haj created a memoir about his travels abroad, drafted short stories, and composed several poems about himself and his life experiences. Being accepted into the Gabler Promise Scholars Writing Program affirmed his lifelong passion for literature and the spoken word.

“Since being inducted into the Gabler Program, I have gained invaluable advice about navigating the writing process, learned strategies and techniques for stimulating creativity, become comfortable with accepting constructive feedback from others, and embraced the revision process as an opportunity to ensure my voice is carried throughout my writing,” said Haj.

The Promise Scholars created a “culture of trust and care” that allowed everyone to create “brave and beautiful writing,” said faculty mentor Patricia Fancher. 

“Thank you for giving me the ability to hear your stories, admire your work, and be profoundly moved by your emotional life experiences and the way you've transported those into your creative energies,” says Elizabeth Gabler. “It takes a lot to dig inside yourself and express yourself into your own words into your art.”

Learn more about these students' outstanding creative and scholarly writing at the website Gabler Promise Scholars Writing Program.