Ellison ’21 Focuses on Mental Health in Black Communities for Internship, Thesis

By Caitlin Burns | April 27, 2021


For his English thesis paper, English and Creative Writing major Jared Ellison ’21 explored the role Black women play in the household and family through a variety of literary characters in a novel by James Baldwin. This includes how these women are considered “the rock” of the family, and need to power through situations that threaten the family unit. 

In a Creative Writing short story, Ellison explores issues of anxiety and change through the story of a young Black man who struggles to maintain friendships as their relationships change in the transition from high school to college.

“I wanted to write about something I’m passionate about,” said Ellison. “While my character is based on me somewhat—cause I don’t really like change—I also wanted to explore how denying change impacts him and the people he loves.”

This topic isn’t new to Ellison, but it wasn’t until his internship at Eclipse Lit, a new literary magazine in Philadelphia, that he decided to publish on it.

“My supervisor knew I wanted to get as many publishing experiences as possible during my internship, so one of the tasks she assigned me was to write an article,” said Ellison of an article published on March 17 in The Fix, which focused on mental health and self care in the Black community.  “It’s something I’ve seen a lot in my community, and it’s close to my heart.”

At Honors Convocation on April 9, Ellison received the Excellence in Creative Writing Award for his contemporary short story “Halfway There,” which was judged as the standout entry for this competitive award. The story focuses on two young brothers coming together for a road trip to Florida to distribute their late father’s ashes. It explores realistic issues such as family abandonment and gender identity, yet manages to be both funny and supremely satisfying in its conclusion.