Creative Writing at North Hennepin Community College


Founded in 1966, NHCC is one of the largest and most diverse community colleges in Minnesota and a member of the Minnesota State system, the fifth largest system in the United States. North Hennepin serves more than 10,000 students per year and offers more than 60 degree and certificate programs. In addition, NHCC offers several bachelor's degrees from university partners on campus. NHCC is conveniently located in Brooklyn Park, just north of Minneapolis. 


The Associate of Fine Arts in Creative Writing combines general education courses and foundational courses in various genres of creative writing and literary studies. Graduates will be able to write effectively, as well as have experiential and academic knowledge of Students will develop and refine their writing skills and explore their interests with courses in fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, literature, publication, and more. The broad exposure can help students decide on an area of focus for their career or bachelor's degree program. 

While the focus of the program is on creative writing, the design structure of the AFA at North Hennepin Community College is open to significant studies in literature and professional and academic writing that, along with the general education courses, allow students the freedom to pursue a multitude of interests and move effectively into other academic studies and career fields. 


The AFA in Creative Writing degree is earned by completing 60 credits, combining creative writing program requirements, program electives (literature and/or additional writing courses), and general electives. The program may be completed as either a full-time student or part-time student, and maintains structural flexibility for better access. Most courses are available in face-to-face, online, and hybrid offerings. 

North Hennepin Community College’s AFA in Creative Writing provides the unique position to earn college credit for experiential learning while working on the editorial staff of Under Construction (ENGL 1250: Magazine Workshop), our national award-winning literary and arts journal, which marks a collaboration between creative writing, graphic design, and studio arts. A capstone course at the end of the program showcases a body of the student’s works-in-progress and explores further education, publication, performance, and careers. 

It is recommended that creative writing students communicate regularly with the Director of Creative Writing to maintain a connection to the program, ensure they are meeting their goals and readying themselves for transfer and/or jobs after graduation, and stay aware of extra-curricular opportunities and events. While students may work with various faculty and advisors, NHCC has a Director of Creative Writing and academic advisors focused on creative writing. Students should consult their intended institution for any additional admissions or general education requirements. 

Required Courses

ENGL 1900: Introduction to Creative Writing (3 cred.)
ENGL 1250: Magazine Workshop (2 cred.)
ENGL 2960: Creative Writing Capstone Project (1 cred.) 

Creative Writing Program Elective Courses

Complete 9 credits from the following: 
ENGL 2010: Writing Creative Nonfiction & Memoir (3 cred.) 
ENGL 2020: Writing Stories (3 cred.) 
ENGL 2030: Writing Poetry (3 cred.) 
ENGL/TFT 2500: Playwriting (3 cred.) 
TFT 1280: Introduction to Screenwriting (3 cred.) 

Program Elective Courses (Literature and Other)

Complete 12 credits from a variety of English courses, including literature, journalism, professional writing, and additional creative writing courses (creative writing program electives beyond 9 required electives). Course options include, but are not limited to: 
ENGL 1140: Professional Writing (3 cred.)
ENGL 1260: Introduction to Journalism (3 cred.) 
ENGL 2150: Introduction to Literary Studies (3 cred.) 
ENGL 1950: Graphic Novels (3 cred.)
ENGL 2300: Children’s Literature (3 cred.)
ENGL 2330: Hmong American Literature (3 cred.)
ENGL 2370: African American Literature (3 cred.)
ENGL 2380: American Indian Literature (3 cred.)
ENGL 2410: US Latinx and Latin American Literature (3 cred.)
and others 

General Education Courses

In addition to the established program electives, students will complete a variety of general education courses to meet degree requirements. Some courses (see MNTC) might overlap in Goal Areas, and thus counting in multiple areas, allowing students even more freedom in academic choices. See for more details on General Education requirements. 

Extracurricular Activities 

Under Construction (literary arts publication)

Every year since 1968, students at North Hennepin Community College have collaborated to produce the award-winning literary and arts journal Under Construction. Its pages have typically portrayed a breadth of human experience, but in recent years, as the student population has become more diverse and international and enrollment of both older, returning students and PSEO students has grown, this range has increased dramatically. Students in the AFA in Creative Writing program will serve as editorial staff as part of the Magazine Workshop course, and all NHCC students have the opportunity to submit their creative writing for publication. Under Construction has won numerous national, regional, and local awards for excellence. 

Realities (culture and identity publication)

Realities is North Hennepin Community College’s non-fiction publication of student narratives that explore cultural experiences and/or aspects of identity. Works published capture reflections, insights, or observations that in some way reveal or wrestle with awareness, difference, connection, celebration, and/or conflict. They may be humorous or serious, but what they should all have in common is that they are part of the record of the breadth and depth of human experience and preserve and promote an elastic understanding of what it means to be human.

 Northern Light (scholarship and research publication)

Northern Light is a student-run journal dedicated to the publication of original scholarship by NHCC students in order to disseminate knowledge and increase the visibility of undergraduate research at two-year colleges. It is published electronically on the web every spring. Students have the opportunity to work for Northern Light as staff, and/or have their work considered for publication. 

Meet the Authors Reading Series

North Hennepin’s Meet the Authors Reading Series brings in published authors in a variety of creative genres, ranging from poetry to fiction to creative nonfiction to playwriting to writing for children. Authors share their work, their approaches to writing, and meet with our students and community. The series features local and (inter)nationally renown writers such as Natalie Diaz, Susan Power, Bao Phi, Jennifer Givhan, Benjamin Percy, and Kao Kalia Yang. 

North Hennepin Writing Center

The writing center includes award-winning faculty leadership and advisors, and provides paid work-study opportunities for student writing tutors. 

Vicky and John Lettmann Endowed Scholarship

For students interested in Creative Writing. Essay and entry submission to the NHCC literary/arts magazine, Under Construction required. Established by Vicky and John Lettmann. Vicky was an English instructor at NHCC from 1968 to 1999, and founded the campus literary/arts magazine, Under Construction as well as the Writing Center. 

Minnesota State Write Like Us

Minnesota State Write Like Us is an equity-based creative writing program at five Twin Cities metro-area community colleges: Anoka-Ramsey Community College, Century College, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, and North Hennepin Community College. Write Like Us centers and celebrates the work of BIPOC writers and writing students, fostering literary mentorship and leadership as it builds a platform for shared stories, voices, and lived experiences. 

Alumni Achievement

Graduates of the AFA in Creative Writing program have continued their studies in creative writing and other fields, published and performed their work, won awards, and expanded in their professional and creative careers. 

Eman Abdulmohsen (she/her) is an NHCC alumni who graduated in the fall of 2018. Her journey of growth began as soon as she decided to study Creative Writing. As a non-native speaker, the fear of language has gotten in her way of occupational selections and socializing. Eman is an Arab writer who uses metaphor frequently in her mother language, and she has always feared losing the meaning in the processes of interpretation and translation. Selecting to study this major was the beginning of an endless path to courage. It began with her obtaining the AFA in Creative Writing and took a fun turns afterwards. She says: “I was gifted with what I consider to be the strongest weapons; language and creativity. And with these, I can master any field.” These two gifts made her work proficiently and getting acknowledged in a variety of fields such as government, healthcare, education, and sales. 

Joshua R. Barsody (he/him) is a Minnesota writer that has a disturbing fascination with the lives of imaginary people. He enjoys both writing for and playing video games that heavily interfere with his studies in Nursing school. He has hopes of someday joining the ranks of fantasy writers to earn a second middle initial like Tolkien or Martin, but with far fewer words than they used. Also, he can't seem to fathom why no one knows who he is despite publishing so many of his works directly to The Recycle Bin. 

Shane Blegen (he/him) is a fiction writer and aspiring house husband living in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis. He holds a BFA in creative writing from Hamline University and is expected to graduate from that institution's MFA program in the Spring of 2022. His work has been published in Sleet Magazine and Thunder Press. He is currently working on a collection of thematically linked, absurdist short stories about life and grief in the upper Midwest. When not writing, Shane can be found constructing Magic: The Gathering decks or walking his greyhound, Pump Up the Jam. 

Kara Antal Froberg (she/her) graduated from NHCC’s AFA in Creative Writing program and then went on to receive a BA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She then began the Master’s program for English at SNHU but with only four classes left in the program decided to change to the MFA in Creative Writing instead. Kara will graduate in 2024. Kara is devoted to her family and tends to burn the candle at both ends. She has four boys, and is a grandmother. Kara has learned to juggle her family life, school life, and work life and also makes sure to spend at least an hour a day writing or doing a writing-related activity. She is working on her first speculative fiction romance novel which will be her thesis for her MFA program. Kara has consistently been on the Dean's List at SNHU and prefers to work in a self-imposed state of panic by procrastinating until the last day to begin most of her school work. Kara is looking forward to the day she graduates and hopes that she will someday teach at NHCC. 

Mariah Hanson (she/her) believes that it is a storyteller’s duty to conjure complex narratives that’ll allow an audience to empathize with marginalized, imperfect characters. We’ve proven ourselves as fluid creatures who all have valid perspectives yet different plotlines. Mariah urges creators to show that, although we each carry our own plots, we all exist in the same story. Mariah graduated from North Hennepin Community College with her AFA in Creative Writing April of 2019. While attending, she was published in the campus’s literary journals, Under Construction and Realities. Mariah hosted an event with the Power Shift Network and MN350 at North Hennepin titled A Hidden Conversation where guest speakers and water protectors advocated against the correlation between oil pipeline Line 3 and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Relatives (MMIR). She also worked with the Roosevelt Network as National Student Leadership’s community college organizer where she developed research and a play script on the outsiders’ perspective of MMIR issues. She now wants to use her writing as tool for the visual medium of filmmaking. She’s studied production and post-production tools at Minneapolis College in the Cinema program. She later transitioned into pursuing Metro State University’s BA in Screenwriting. Mariah continues to work as a freelance filmmaker and writing tutor while she completes her studies at Metro State. 

Since graduating from NHCC, Heather Johnson (Busse) (she/her) attended Hamline University for a BFA in English and Creative Writing, wrote "The Useful Life Clockworks Company" published in Calamities Press, and ran for U.S. Senate in 2014, losing to Al Franken and Mike McFadden. In 2021, Heather ran and won a director seat for the Marcy Holmes board. She is active in her community, caring for her two children, and one cat, Fizzgig. Heather currently writes and edits proposals for healthcare administrative contracts. Additionally, she started a publication company called Starweather Press, LLC. She plans to publish her own work through Starweather Press. Heather continues to write and edit fiction part-time. 

Mayra Menor (she/her) graduated from NHCC with an AFA in Creative Writing and, since then, went on to get a BFA in Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University. Instead of continuing her education in writing, she decided to study Korean. It was hard, and after two years, all she learned was how to confidently introduce herself. Mayra has written multiple children’s stories (none of which have been published) and poems (which have been posted on Instagram, but can that really be called “published?”). She has gravitated towards editing and took on a job reviewing health insurance forms, looking for errors in translated documents. She also recently took on an editing project, volunteering to read a book translated from Korean and help the author better express himself in the English version of his book. Mayra is excited to be making her way back to books and looks forward to future opportunities this experience will bring. 

Since completing her AFA in Creative Writing at NHCC, Jamie Randall (she/her) has received a BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Augsburg University. Jamie participated in a community dance and art project "Weave," created by Rosy Simas, publishing poems inspired by the performances. Currently, Jamie is teaching English at Inver Hills Community College and bringing poetry to her community through writing workshops. Jamie found her passion working with students while in Diversity & Equity at NHCC for 7 years before pursuing teaching. 


North Hennepin’s creative writing faculty are established members of the literary community and are active in publishing, performance, and academic scholarship, providing a round and developed approach to the study and advancement of creative writing ability and knowledge. 

Brian Baumgart (he/him) is the author of the poetry collection Rules for Loving Right (Sweet, 2017), and his poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in a number of journals, including South Dakota Review, Big Muddy, Spillway, Whale Road Review, and Signal Mountain Review, among others, as well as in the anthology Rewilding: Poems for the Environment. His poetry has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net awards. Brian has served as the Director of Creative Writing at North Hennepin Community College from 2012-2022, and was 2018 Artist-in-Residence at University of Minnesota's Cedar Creek Ecological Science Reserve. At North Hennepin, he’s been honored with a Faculty of Excellence Award, Phi Theta Kappa Above & Beyond Award, and Diversity & Equity Award (for co-advising the Realities publication). More about Brian

Heidi A. Howell (she/her) has published poems in online and print literary magazines, including SHANTIH, s/word, Psychic Meatloaf, The Eastern Iowa Review, Otoliths, la fovea, What Light, So To Speak: A Feminist Journal of Language and Art, and the Washington Review, which nominated her work for a Pushcart. She holds an MFA from George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. 

Haley Lasché (she/her) is the founder, designer and editor of Concision Poetry Journal ( Her poems have appeared in such places as Landlocked Magazine, Clade Song, and Nice Cage. She has two poetry chapbooks: Where It Leads (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2016) and Blood and Survivor (Locofo Chaps, 2017). She co-curates the Talking Image Connection ekphrastic reading series with Luke Pingel and teaches at North Hennepin Community College and Hamline University. 

Kelly Foster Lundquist (she/her) is a nonfiction writer. Her essays have appeared in Good Letters, Patheos, Image Journal, and The Academy Stories, among other places. She is currently revising her first book-length nonfiction manuscript, Beard: A Love Story. She holds an MFA from Seattle Pacific University and an MA from Mississippi College (she is originally from Yazoo City, Mississippi). Lundquist was awarded the 2012 Milton Center First Book Fellowship. She’s an alumnus of the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop and the recipient of multiple grants from the Central Minnesota Arts Board. Lundquist teaches Creative Writing in the AFA program at North Hennepin Community College, where she recently received a Faculty of Excellence award from the TRIO program. She facilitates a weekly Writer’s Open Studio at MontiArts in Monticello, where she lives with her spouse and daughter. While on sabbatical in 2021-2022, Lundquist is researching approaches to decolonizing the teaching of academic English. 

A fourth generation Tejana from San Antonio, Texas, Irma Mayorga (she/her) is theater director, designer, dramaturg, theater studies scholar, and award-winning playwright. Her play Cascarones received invitation for development at the prestigious Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s Playwrights Conference and was premiered by DNAWorks/Teatro Paraguas (Santa Fe, NM). Her playwriting has also been recognized by the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award, PlayPenn, and the Carnaval of New Latinx Work. In 2014 the University of Texas Press published a second edition of her play The Panza Monologues (written with collaborator Virginia Grise). As Latinx Studies scholar Alberto Sandoval-Sánchez notes, The Panza Monologues, Second Edition “is the most original and historically documented theatre project to date in Latina/o (sic) theatre...It is a lesson in making theatre matter, and it spotlights how theatre is informed by lived experiences and historical processes….” The Panza Monologues has enjoyed continuous and innovative productions by itinerate theater companies, universities, and groups of women across the country. She holds an M.F.A. in Costume Design from UW-Madison and a Joint Ph.D. in Drama and the Humanities from Stanford University. She has been an instrumental teaching artist, thought leader, student-centered changemaker, and survivor of departments in Theater and Performance Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Women's & Gender Studies at institutions such as Williams College, UT-San Antonio, Florida State University, Dartmouth College, Grinnell College, and North Hennepin Community College among others. More on Irma.    

Ana Munro (she/her) graduated Cum Laude from the Masters in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, and was faculty there before moving to the U.S. Ana worked as an investigative journalist for many years in the United States and the UK and was awarded the Wisconsin News Association Award for Journalism for her series on the theft and return of Strawberry Island to the Lac du Flambeau Nation. She is also the recipient of the UK’s Orange Prize for Fiction-Short Story, the James R. Carlson Fellowship from Eckerd College for innovation and creativity in fiction, and the James Farrell Re(Cognition) Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions towards advancing sustainability efforts in the Upper Midwest. Her book of poetry Above the Dance of Clouds, was published in 2014. Ana is currently developing a nature and environmental justice immersion program in collaboration with YMCA Camp Northern Lights and the Three Rivers Park District to get more students into the wilderness. 

Kara Olson (she/her) is a poet, educator, and SEED (Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) facilitator. She is a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers, a recipient of a Jerome Foundation-supported residency at the Anderson Center, and a member of the Queer Voices writing circles in collaboration with Hennepin County and Quatrefoil Library. Her poem “Last Night” was selected by Donika Kelly as winner of The Sewanee Review's 2020 Poetry Contest. Recent poems appear in The Hyacinth Review, Water~Stone Review and TAYO Literary Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis. 

Katharine Rauk (she/her) is the author of two poetry collections, Buried Choirs (Tinderbox Editions) and the chapbook Basil (Black Lawrence Press). She has published poems, interviews, and reviews in many literary journals and anthologies. Visit her website.   

Lisa Whalen's (she/her) Stable Weight: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope (Hopewell Publications) has been featured on numerous podcasts and was named Reserve Champion by the international Equus Film and Arts Festival. Her writing has also appeared in An Introvert in an Extrovert World (Cambridge Scholars), The Simpsons’ Beloved Springfield (McFarland), Adanna, Writing on the Edge, and Introvert, Dear. She has an M.A. in creative and critical writing from Hamline University and a Ph.D. in postsecondary and adult education from Capella University, where she researched narratives and empathy. She teaches composition, research, journalism, creative writing, and Hmong American Literature. In her spare time, she is an equestrian and animal welfare advocate. 

To Learn More

For more information on the AFA in Creative Writing at North Hennepin Community College, go to college website, or contact Brian Baumgart, Director of Creative Writing, at