By Amy Wolff
When Elise Goitia, a senior at Seton
Catholic Prep and Tempe resident,
submitted her young adult novel
Lark to San Diego State University’s
National Writer’s Conference, she had no
idea she would beat adults from all over the
country for the coveted Conference Choice
In the SDSU competition, writers
submit advance copies of their books to
agents or editors for award consideration.
Then it’s up to the agent or editor
to determine who is worthy of the
respected award. Lark was submitted for
consideration without disclosing that Elise
was still a high school student.
“Elise’s book was measured against
all the adult contestants; her age was not
disclosed at any point during the review
process,” said her mother, Stacey Goitia.
“Many agents and editors don’t give
an award to anyone, even if they have
received great submissions. It’s really only
the ‘knock-your-socks-off’ manuscript
that gets them to bestow such a significant
award and Elise won it with her first book
New York literary agent Pam Gruber
chose Elise’s YA novel for the conference
award out of the thousands of manuscripts
In addition to this impressive writing
award, Elise is a top scholarship recipient
in Seton Catholic Prep’s 2014 graduating
class — earning $103,500 in scholarships
from multiple educational institutions.
With scholarship offers from Arizona
State University, Northern Arizona
University, Earlham College and George
Washington College, Elise chose to attend
Knox College, a private liberal arts college
located in Galesburg, Ill.
Knox awarded Elise the Ellen Browning
Scripps Scholarship. Named after the
co-founder of Scripps Howard newspapers,
the Ellen Browning recognition is awarded
to first-year students who have excelled in a
rigorous course of study.
Elise chose Knox based on its
distinguished creative writing program that
fits perfectly with her desire to pursue a
career as an author.
In addition to focusing on her studies
during her senior year at Seton and writing
several YA book series, Elise also held two
part-time jobs, added her mother.
“We are proud parents. Elise is a hard
worker and I am grateful for that. I don’t
think there is a single more important
thing to learn—you can’t get very far with
intelligence and talent without a lot of hard
Photo by Billy Hardiman