This is the time of year when alumni feel wistful and wish we were again at residency—the writing community at Hamline being warm enough to offset even the frigid temp’s of January in St. Paul. It’s a lifeline to see the nuggets Jackie has posted from lectures, but there’s nothing like being there in person.

Thankfully, the first weekend of residency is also alumni weekend. Last week was the first such weekend during a January residency and introduced some exciting new developments. In addition to workshopping and a special session with guest agent Kendra Marcus, the group enjoyed master classes with Phyllis Root and Mary Logue. Plus, the agenda now offers opportunities for alumni to present or facilitate writing workshops ourselves. A hearty thanks to our first alumni presenters: Andy Cochran, who talked about applying the MFA qualifications to teaching opportunities, and Daniel Campbell, who led a hands-on session about sensory writing. The word on the street and around facebook is that the weekend was refreshing and inspiring!

So, alumni, start planning ahead for July or beyond. The home fires are always burning at Hamline, and perhaps there’s a special topic you’d like to explore or present.

On behalf of the alumni, I extend a heartfelt congratulations to the graduating class of January 2012 (which includes our inkpot blogger Melissa Dempsey). By tonight, you will be officially alumni, and we are so proud. Your fellow alumni know about the hard work and personal growth this accomplishment represents. As you transition to life-after-the-MFA, remember that the Hamline community extends beyond the two-year program in many forms, ranging from writing groups to alumni weekends to personal relationships.

Remember that you can always come home again—and it will be warm, even in January.