Inaugural Alumni Award Winners

Two distinguished alumni were presented with awards at the Inaugural Alumni Awards and Reunions. Naomi Benaron, MFA in Creative Writing ’06, was presented with the President’s Award for Distinction in Professional Accomplishment. It is given to an alum who has been recognized in some public way by their professional or trade associations, or who has published or presented works of influence, or whose work within a profession has attained recognition and appreciation by the general public. Nancy Fawcett, MA in Psychology ’86, received the Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Service to AULA. This award is given to an alum whose volunteer service to the University and its students has had exceptional and lasting impact.

naomi-benaron-lrg - Photo by Erik Hinote

Photo by Erik Hinote

Naomi Benaron is a fiction writer and a poet. Her novel “Running the Rift” won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, which recognizes fiction works that address issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships. Her short story collection, “Love Letters from a Fat Man,” won the 2006 Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction. Naomi’s short stories and poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, JewishFiction.net, Spillway Journal, Blast Furnace, and Prime Number.

She teaches through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and mentors Afghan women through AWWP (the Afghan Women’s Writing Project), an online group where Afghan women can express themselves in safety and in freedom.

In addition to her MFA in Creative Writing from AULA, she has degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Her first career was as a scientist. For many years, she worked as a seismologist and geophysicist for companies including Mobil Oil and a consulting company for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Naomi has two dogs; a Walker Hound and a Queensland Heeler. She is also a marathon runner and an Ironman triathlete.

Nancy-Fawcett2

Photo by Mikel Healey

Nancy Fawcett was born and raised in the New York area. Following high school in 1961, she attended college in Colorado and there developed a love for the West. She majored in education and for 13 years worked as a teacher of young children, work she truly loved.

A cross-country move brought her to California where she worked in television as a content editor on children’s and adult programming. Simultaneously, she was in group therapy, which is what led her to further pursue her education in AULA’s MA in Clinical Psychology program and become a psychotherapist. In 1988, she became a licensed marriage and family therapist and has been in private practice for the last 28 years.

Over that time, she resumed her teaching career and has been an adjunct professor at AULA, teaching process classes in the MA in Psychology program. Her commitment to AULA led her and other dedicated alumni to help form the now-thriving Antioch University Los Angeles Alumni Association.

Nancy’s heart is very much tied to the arts; she is on the board of an arts program in the MacArthur Park area that provides free art training to young people in that community. She and her husband Jim are also committed collectors, photographers, bakers, community builders, and avid travelers.

The reunions provided an opportunity for alumni to reconnect with former classmates, program chairs, faculty, University leadership, as well as meet other alumni from their programs and the University at large. The sold out event took place Saturday, November 9, 2013 at Seasons 52 restaurant in Santa Monica.