We Have a Scholarship Winner!

Janice Canty of Chicago, 2016 Scholarship winner

We Have a Scholarship Winner!

By Patricia Tennison

janiceJanice Canty exploded when she read the letter. “I screamed so loud that I made my dog, Maxi, bark.” Then came the doubts.

“My daughter said ‘Is this for real? Are you sure?’ ” But Janice quietly set her daughter straight: “Yes, it’s real. I really can write.”

Yes, she can. And her writing is taking her to Paris.

Janice Canty of Homewood, Illinois, is the first winner of National Louis University’s new Paris Café Writing scholarship. She will join a small group of traveling scribes who live for a week in Paris, write in cafes in the morning, dine in fine restaurants, walk medieval streets, take in some jazz—and record everything around them in words and photos and lifelong memories.

She’s a wonderful example of why the scholarship was created.

The backstory

I’ve been running Paris Café Writing for five years and it attracts a lovely and lively group from around the United States, plus Canada, India, and Australia. The participants have included doctors, visual artists, archaeologists, actresses, business owners, a supreme court justice—but rarely the students that I leave behind in Chicago.

I teach writing at National Louis University (NLU) in Chicago to students who are pursuing a Master of Science in Written Communication. I teach at night mostly to working adults who typically don’t travel abroad.

(Spoiler alert: You are going to be asked below for a little donation. But first, back to Janice.)

Janice is “60+ years young” and came into writing later in life. She has a story to tell, a history/memoir that includes her birthplace of Montgomery, Ala., her family's relationship with a civil rights icon, and the Great Migration that brought her family north to Chicago’s South Side.

Here are her own words submitted to one of my NLU classes:

"My parents enrolled us in a racially mixed school for the first time in our lives. My father was able to find work, as did my mother. My father probably made no more than $5 an hour. I remember my father getting up for work at 5 o’clock every morning for 20 years, and he never missed a day of work. My mother, an expert seamstress, found work in a sewing factory."

Janice inherited that work ethic. She was a single mom and raised her daughter in Chicago by working as a legal assistant:

Legal secretaries in the 1960s were a prim and proper breed, as though they were part of a rare culture; however, they were different from other clerical positions. I know because I was one of them.

Legal secretaries especially were in high demand. Emphasis was placed on dress, typing speed, and more importantly, how to prepare your boss’s coffee to perfection. You wore pillbox hats, white gloves, and tastefully tailored knee-length suits. (This is unlike the dress code of today’s “fashionistas,” for whom the acceptable office attire may be flip-flops, jeans, and crop-tops.)

Our coiffed hairdos were arranged ever so neatly. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was our idol, and it didn’t matter whether you were black or white. Any secretary worth her salt tried to emulate her, as did I. You did your job well and would feel happy about your performance.

Next Goals: A Book, Teaching

Janice is now working on her book and hopes to teach English and edit short stories. She recently moved in with her daughter and two teenage granddaughters.

"In late June 2014 I went to a roadside farm stand with Ronnye, my daughter, to buy a tomato plant. She picked up a large plant, and said, 'How about this one?' However, the plant she chose cost $8.50, and my funds were somewhat limited. I saw this little, scraggly plant that was about 6 inches tall but cost $1.50. I said to my daughter, 'This plant will work; it will grow just as big as the other one.' When I arrived home, I planted my cherry tomato plant in a large pot. Afterwards, I literally watched every day from my patio window, as that little plant grew over a whopping 5 feet tall!"

Janice will be traveling to write in Paris in summer 2016. This will give her a year to practice her bonjours—and to save up the $1,000 she needs to contribute.

The Pitch

We did not reach the scholarship goal this first year. The total cost, which includes the tuition with many meals, plus airfare and hotels, is about $4,000. I personally contributed the first $1,350 and many of you were kind enough to jump in. However, we were $1,000 short and so offered the scholarship on merit and not on great need. Because of that shortfall, some of the other students could not even apply.

Next year, we want to make it a full scholarship.

The 2016 scholarship will be available for students then enrolled in the Master of Science in Written Communication program at National Louis University who will be published in the 2016 Mosaic literary magazine.

Pull out your credit card. Even $25 helps. To make a tax-deductible contribution, follow this link to National Louis University's Paris Café Writing scholarship. The money will help send the 2016 writer to Paris:
Philippine Earns Her Fashion StripesIMG_3740


We reported—in a photo newsletter—about the classic seamen’s stripes that popped up in almost humorous numbers everywhere we went in France last summer. Then this winter, our favorite waitress at Le Bistro Gourmand in the 3rd appeared in a long-sleeved version.

It’s Gariguette SeasonUnknown

If you are in France this spring, look for these orange-red, oblong Gariguette strawberries. The very fragrant cross was developed in the 1970s, and Parisians snap up the fraises coming from Nîmes in the Languedoc-Roussillon southern region for the brief weeks that they appear in the markets.

The photos: From top, Janice Canty, 2015 scholarship winner, in Chicago before the bean-shaped Cloud Gate in Millennium Park; at a Michigan Avenue cafe; and aside the lions at the Art Institute of Chicago. Waitress Philippine at Le Bistro Gourmand, 1 rue DuPuis, 75003, Paris. Fraise gariguette de Nîmes.

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