UArts Pre-College: Alumna Siobhan Vivian

BFA ’01; Summer Institute, ‘96

Screenwriting (BFA)

Pre-College Summer Institute ‘96 (Art, Media & Design), BFA ’01 (Writing for Film & TV)

Hometown: Rutherford, New Jersey
Along the way: Brooklyn, New York, Los Angeles, California
Current living in: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Summer Institute was the most transformative experience of my life.

Siobhan Vivian discovered her passion, her life’s work, and life-long friends, mentors, and colleagues in the Summer Institute. In fact, a program for high school students modeled after Summer Institute became the subject of her second book, Same Difference (Scholastic Press, 2012). The novel was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, listed as a 2012 American Library Association Best Fiction for Young Adults selection, and chosen as a 2012 IndieBound Spring Pick. Siobhan’s Pre-College experience was the beginning of a lasting community and an enduring association with UArts. She interned one summer with her “really cool Pre-College professors,” multi-media artists Doug Lloyd and Tsia Carson, with whom she remains close; worked throughout her undergraduate career in the Pre-College office; to this day seeks feedback on her work from former UArts classmates, now long-time friends; and has returned to the university as a Visiting Writer.

Siobhan began her career in children’s television development, ultimately landing a position as a screenwriter for the media company Playhouse Disney, but she remained committed to evolving the unique voice she had found at UArts and to the creation of authentic, realistic, and feminist stories about teenage girls. After leaving television, she worked as an editor and writer at Alloy Entertainment while earning her MFA in Children’s Literature from The New School in New York City. While there, she met classmate Jenny Han with whom she co-authored a trilogy of novels published by Simon and Schuster, her current publisher.

The New York Times best-selling author has written numerous highly acclaimed young adult novels and children's books. Her novels, available in hardcover, paperback, as e-books and audiobooks, have been listed on best book lists multiple times by Kirkus Reviews, the Young Adult Library Association, The American Library Association, IndieBound, and Reader’s Choice; received high praise from Publisher’s Weekly, and Seventeen magazine, and have been translated into French, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish, among other languages. She is represented by Folio Jr., a division of Folio Literary Management, an agency devoted to “the representation of today’s most stellar children’s books authors and artists.”

I loved Philadelphia, and UArts felt like home to me from the minute I got there.

As a teenager, UArts was the first place Siobhan felt comfortable and where she fit in. The immersive experience in Summer Institute and the rigor and intensity of the undergraduate program appealed to her and created a great sense of community, helped her develop her writing practice, and contribute to the University’s unique character and strength. With the support and encouragement of her UArts teachers and classmates, she “set her compass to truth” and has never wavered from this commitment.

I still use the lessons I learned at UArts in a very direct way in my writing.

After completing her MFA, Siobhan and her husband, designer Nick Caruso, moved to his hometown of Pittsburgh, where they currently live with their young daughters Marie and Vivian. Siobhan a part-time instructor at the University of Pittsburgh, where she aims to “recreate the experience I had at UArts” for her own students, an experience of “diving deep” with the freedom to develop a unique voice and vision and the self-confidence to accept feedback. Having worked both on the business side of publishing and as an exceptionally successful author, Siobhan is committed to the principle that artists must learn “how their art works in the world” on a practical level. She credits UArts with helping her develop the skill to master her craft and the fortitude to navigate the competitive publishing industry.