Though she grew up in her family’s famous Rue Morgue mystery bookstore in Boulder, Sarah Schantz has not lived her life by the book. After dropping out of high school at 15, she hitchhiked and hopped trains across the country – working in sugar-beet fields in Minnesota, joining a squatting community in Philadelphia, and starting a family in a Tennessee farmhouse before finally returning to Boulder with her husband, baby girl, and stepdaughter. Then 26, Sarah was eager to be closer to her parents and ready to learn on her own terms. So she enrolled at FRCC.

Always a voracious reader and talented writer, Sarah sailed through her classes with a 4.0 GPA, acquiring a cache of awards and honors in the process. Her plan was to accept a full scholarship to the University of Colorado after graduation, but injuries suffered in a car accident interfered. Instead, Sarah went on to earn both her bachelor’s degree and Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics at Naropa University. Along the way, she authored many acclaimed short stories – one of which became a finalist in the New Letters competition, a first-place winner in a Third Coast contest, a prestigious Pushcart Prize nominee, a featured story in the anthology series New Stories of the Midwest, and the inspiration for Sarah’s first novel, “Fig.”

To those who know Sarah’s writing, news that this tale of a young Kansas girl and her schizophrenic mother won both the Colorado Book Award and a spot on NPR’s list of best reads of 2015 has come as no surprise.

To those who know Sarah, neither has her unconventional path to success.

“The instructors at FRCC are just so good. I felt seen there. There was mentorship, with teachers taking more steps to help students than in most places. There is a way to turn your life around in a way that I don’t know would be possible at other institutions.”