PSEO student on track for career as professional writer
Alissa Roehlen, 18, of South St. Paul, Minnesota, will be graduating from South St. Paul High School in May 2016 with two semesters of college classes already completed. As a Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) student, Alissa is pursuing an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree at Inver Hills Community College. She’s following her dream to turn a passion for writing into a lifelong career. Besides her A.A., Alissa’s also earning a 16-credit Professional Writing Certificate.
“I’m not sure about my transfer plans,” Alissa said, “but I’m looking at St. Thomas, St. Mary’s or the U of M. I’m hoping to get into some kind of professional writing field, such as journalism, being an author or even an editor.”
If pressed, Alissa will say she prefers writing and reading fiction over nonfiction. “I adore short stories,” she said. “‘The Old Man and the Sea’ by Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorites.”
As a writer of fiction, she likes having the freedom to say whatever she wants while making it up as she goes. “I love the idea of creating a whole new world just with words,” she said. “I really enjoy writing my own short stories¹ and I’m looking forward to writing a novel one day.”
When asked what she likes best about writing, Alissa said, “Writing inspires others and helps you discover more about yourself. Being able to express yourself and your ideas simply using words is truly a remarkable thing.”
Her favorite writer is F. Scott Fitzgerald. “I remember an American Literature class in ninth grade where we studied writers like Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, Zora Neale Hurston and Fitzgerald—and I absolutely loved it. However, Fitzgerald always stuck out to me the most. I continued reading more of his works even when the class ended, and I still do.”
Alissa feels her greatest strength as a writer is her daily resolve to learn all she can about her chosen craft. She values constructive criticism and enjoys every aspect of the writing process, especially going back to a draft to make essential revisions. “Revising your work can really be the best part of writing and the most fun,” she said.
She comes from a huge family with five brothers and one sister. She’s the right-in-the-middle child with three older and three younger siblings. Besides writing her own short stories, her pastimes include reading, watching movies, going on long walks, spending time with her best friends and going to the mall. She also enjoys drawing and her specialty is Disney-style cartoons.
¹ Alissa has signed on as an IHN contributing writer and her work, including one of her short stories, is slated to appear on the news blog in the near future.
Alissa Roehlen | 21 Answers
- Favorite season: Fall
- Favorite natural feature: Rain
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Yoga
- Your national bird if you could have one: Barn owl
- Place you would most like to visit: Paris
- Favorite holiday: Halloween
- Favorite animal: Sloth or owl
- Favorite actor or actress: Leonardo DiCaprio
- Favorite band or performing artist: Lana Del Rey
- Scariest thing in the world: War
- Favorite food: Chocolate
- Favorite day of the week: Friday
- Favorite TV show: Supernatural
- Favorite movie: The Great Gatsby (2013) or Amélie
- One thing you most want to accomplish: Writing a novel someday
- Most precious possession: The Land of Stories signed by Chris Colfer from when she met him
- First thing you would buy if you won the $1.5 billion Powerball: A new wardrobe
- Dream occupation: Author, editor or magazine columnist
- Person you would most like to meet: Leonardo DiCaprio
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Stress management or playing acoustic guitar
- Favorite novel: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
To learn more about earning an A.A. degree at Inver Hills, contact: