Construction-Worker Father Inspires Future Teacher's Award-Winning Story

April 06, 2018

Quick Facts

bullet point Lucy Gardner is a middle level education major from Chester, South Carolina.
bullet point She was awarded $1,000 and the student fiction prize for her short story, "When the Storm Ends."


Lucy Gardner 

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA - Growing up with a father who built houses inspired Lucy Gardner to write a story that recently won her a scholarship from the South Carolina Academy of Authors (SCAA).

SCAA awarded Gardner, a Winthrop University senior middle-level education major, with its $1,000 Elizabeth Boatwright Coker Student Prize in Fiction for her short story, "When the Storm Ends." Gardner describes it as a "fiction piece meshed together with my childhood memories, along with some fabrications of my own imagination."

"When the Storm Ends" is essentially about construction workersone who is the narrator's father, and another the narrator's love interest. The narrator switches her allegiance between each man throughout the story, making her final decision after a literal storm. (No spoiler here.)

"I found myself surrounded by this life so much that it seems to bleed onto the pages without me really thinking about it," said Gardner, a Chester, South Carolina, resident. "A lot of the scenes in this story come from the real world of construction life."

She decided to submit her story for award consideration based on encouragement from Assistant Professor of English Dustin M. Hoffman, who read the story in his fiction writing class.

Gardner hasn't concretely decided what she'll do with her prize money yet.

"It'll either help supply my new classroom for next yearor be used as gas money for a road trip this summer," she said.

While she originally began as a computer science major, then a psychology major, at Winthrop, Gardner finally chosen middle-level education because she believes being around kids is where she can make a difference.

"My mom is a teacher and has been my entire life, so I got to watch her experiences which ultimately put me on this course," she said. "I chose middle level because that age group is by far the most hilarious group, and that's what I want to surround myself with for the rest of my life."

Post-graduation, Gardner hopes to travel, teach and settle down with a family of her own.

The SCAA also awarded Lauren Rose Clark '14 with the Carrie McCray Nickens Student Prize in Poetry. Clark holds a master's degree in creative writing from Auburn University and is currently a graduate student at the University of South Carolina. She's also poetry editor for "Yemassee Journal."

The winners will be honored at an awards brunch during the April 27-29 weekend of activities in Beaufort, South Carolina.

The SCAA strives to identify, recognize and promote the state's distinguished writers.

For more information, contact Nicole Chisari, communications coordinator, at 803/323-2236 or

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