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The Story of Raab Writing Fellows

Dr. Diana Raab supports academic, professional, and creative student writing

The Raab Writing Fellows Program, funded by generous gifts from former UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee Dr. Diana Raab, provides opportunities for mentorship and research in writing to select undergraduates. The program supports the academic and professional writing of students via one-on-one work with Writing Program faculty. Students have the opportunity to collaborate with an intimate cohort of other Raab Writing Fellows, building a strong bond and writing network for their activities at UC Santa Barbara and beyond. The transformative nature of mentorship inspired Diana to found the program in 2016.

Diana’s first writing mentor was her sixth grade English teacher in New York. Her grandmother had just passed away, and Diana was writing an essay about her. Diana’s teacher looked over her shoulder and told her that her writing was powerful. 

“He said, ‘I love the way you bring your words together.’ I think it's because of him that I became a writer,” said Diana. “We are so malleable in grade school. Teachers’ words are so important. He encouraged me with an enthusiasm for my work, which really inspired me.” Diana says that she’s had various mentors at different stages in her life, each one contributing to her career successes in nursing, healthcare administration, writing, and psychological research. “Everybody needs mentors, whether you're a writer or a scientist, and whether you’re young or old.”

The Raab Writing Fellows Program is valuable for any student interested in pursuing graduate work, developing a writing project with an expert, or working on communication around a research area or topic. Raab Writing Fellows enroll in a year-long research course to support their projects. The program is open to students from all majors. 

“Writing crosses all disciplines, from crafting an employment letter, to writing papers— even to sending emails,” said Diana. 

The Raab Writing Fellows Program supports approximately 20 students annually with stipends to provide funding for conference expenses, materials and travel as well as stipends for mentors. 

“Perhaps the most valuable part of the fellowship is that it creates a rare space for interdisciplinary and deeply personal explorations that engage with and give voice to the communities to which the fellows belong,” said Dr. Ljiljana Coklin, Raab Writing Fellows program director. “As alumni have shared with us, participation in the fellowship has played an important part in advancing their careers, both in academia and in the workplace. The Raab Writing Fellows Program helps us cultivate the fellows’ passion for writing, and as such proves to be a testament to Diana Raab’s belief in the transformative power of writing and in the potential and promise of young writers.”

At the end of the program, the Raab Writing Fellows present a showcase of their research and writing. 

“The wisdom, interest, enthusiasm, and diversity is astounding,” said Diana. “The students cover everything from health to politics to immigration. It crosses all disciplines.”

Raab Writing Fellow Gabriela Andrade ’23 created a physical pamphlet of stories, a website, and a digital zine for her project “Fieldworker Stories Untold.” Gabriela collected fieldworkers’ oral histories from her community to offer better insight into the economic hardships, educational barriers, and limited resources that immigrants face. 

“Thank you so much for caring enough to support my story and those of the individuals that I care about most,” said Gabriela to Diana. “Working in the fields since the age of sixteen, I have seen some of the struggles that many fieldworkers face, especially since they work minimum wage. The community you were able to build is one that I will truly never forget! You have made a great impact on me, the other Raab Fellows, and those who work in Central Valley's fields.”

“Writing is transformative and healing for a lot of people in a way that I don't think they'll forget,” said Diana. “Seeing the bliss in the students’ faces upon completing the Raab Writing Fellows Program makes me really happy. It is the best program we support.”