Like Angie Thomas, Andrea Foreman loves to write stories. Her book-length story “Black Sugar” was a romance but with a foundation of seriousness. It was about a girl whose parents died, leaving her with nowhere to live. “And so, this older guy that she grew up with owns a bar near where she lives and he suggested she live in one of these vacant houses that his brother owns,” Foreman describes.
It turns out the home isn’t vacant. A guy is living there, and he and the main character live there together and end up falling in love.
Foreman’s favorite genre to write about is nonfiction romance, but with depth, she adds.
Growing up, Foreman says she mostly read Wattpad stories and not the works of best-selling authors. But Angie Thomas is one successful author who managed to snare her attention with her novel, “The Hate U Give.” The teenager then started keeping up with Thomas’ writing.
“By following her on Instagram, I saw she posted something about a scholarship, and then I applied for the scholarship last year,” she says.
Now, Foreman is moving to Mississippi to study at Thomas’ alma mater on a full-ride scholarship named after her literary role model: the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship.
Second Submission the Charm
Foreman graduated from Concord High School in her hometown of Wilmington, Del., in 2020. She took a gap year after graduating because she couldn’t afford to attend, and she didn’t want the experience of her first year of college happening virtually, she explains.
The pandemic cancelled her prom and ruined senior week, where the seniors rent out a beach house, and high school students from other schools attend. She didn’t get to see her favorite teachers anymore, and she didn’t get to have a real graduation. Foreman describes the year after graduation as a weird time filled with no school, no social life, work and writer’s block.
“COVID has definitely changed some things in my life,” she says.
Foreman first applied for the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship last year, but placed third. After completing this year’s application, Foreman says she wasn’t confident that she would win, but she felt that she’d at least get second or third place. She submitted two books, poetry and an essay for the application compared to the one piece of writing she had submitted the year prior.
“In the back of my head, I was kinda anxious because I really needed the scholarship, and I needed to win. It’s a chance that I could win, and it’s a chance that it could (not) be in my favor. But doubt always tries to seep in and makes you think that you can’t win,” she says.
Like A Burden Has Been Lifted
On April 16, Andrea Foreman received an email from Belhaven University Admissions Counselor Judith Edele informing her that Dr. Randall Smith, department chairman and professor of creative writing, wanted to discuss the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship with her. As she read the email, she had an inkling that she had won the scholarship. It was her second time applying after placing third in 2020.
“(Last year), they didn’t text us and say they wanted to talk to us. But there was also a part of me that was like maybe they’re doing that this year because the scholarship just came out last year,” Foreman tells the Mississippi Free Press during a phone interview.
That Monday, April 19, she joined a Zoom call with Belhaven University staff. The staff fibbed and told her they were calling each recipient, and Foreman still thought she may have won. But she was in for a surprise.
“They were waiting for one person to join, and then it was Angie. And I was like, ‘Oh my God!,’” she says. “They told me that I had won, and I was really excited and really happy.”
While she feels blessed to have won the second Angie Thomas scholarship, Foreman does feel the pressure to be really good in school, she says. Her only worries now are how she’ll pay for food and books.
“My parents are definitely happy for me. They’re excited, and they feel like a burden has been lifted off their shoulders,” Foreman says.
The full-ride scholarship helps aspiring young writers who need extra support to make their authorship dreams come true, a statement reads. The scholarship will cover room, board and tuition.
Angie Thomas told the Mississippi Free Press that it was the Delaware native’s talent, skills and personal essay about her love for writing that helped to affirm her decision in giving Foreman the scholarship.
“When I first read her submission, I forgot it was a submission. I felt like I was reading an actual book just for enjoyment. When you’re reading something, and you forget that this is someone who is not published yet or isn’t considered a ‘professional’ yet, that blew me away,” Thomas says.
‘A Place That Has Such a Rich Literary History’
Foreman will begin classes at Belhaven University this fall, and she says she’s nervous to be away from her friends and family. She is excited for a change of scenery and the impact it will have on her writing. She wants to get over her writer’s block and get back into the flow of writing as much as she can.
“I’m hoping that with moving there that I meet new people, and I’m ready to learn because I’ve never had someone teach me how to write. So, that’s pretty exciting,” she adds.
Thomas says she believes Foreman’s time at Belhaven and in Mississippi will expand her horizons as far as being around new people with different experiences, from different cities or different countries. She says meeting so many different people was one of the best parts of being at Belhaven for her.
“Just being in Mississippi, a place that has such a rich literary history, is going to be a huge benefit,” Thomas adds. “There’s a reason why so many awesome writers come from this state because there’s so much writers can take from this state and put into their writing and enrich their writing.”
Although her academic journey is just upon the horizon, Foreman says she knows she will be done with school after Belhaven. Following graduation, she wouldn’t mind a job or internship on a movie set, and she hopes to create a relationship with Angie Thomas, she says. Thomas is now partly transitioning into the movie world.
“I would love to have some type of footing in the (screen)writing aspect because I want to create movies, you know? I want to be able to have someone as a resource in the future,” Foreman says.
Thomas says she hopes the Angie Thomas Writers Scholarship brings more writers to Mississippi to some day say they were educated here. She thinks the scholarship will add to the state’s literary history.
“My hope is that the scholarship just adds to that legacy and that it also shows people that great writers can come from Mississippi, and great writers can learn from Mississippi. Great writers can be birthed in Mississippi,” the author says.
Foreman says she is grateful for an opportunity she wanted so badly.
“I want to thank God for all that he’s done for me because I was praying every night for the scholarship. So it’s definitely been a blessing and a prayer that’s been answered,” she says.
Editor’s Note: Angie Thomas is a donor and on the advisory board of the Mississippi Free Press, which had no influence on this story.