Student Testimonials

Memory to Memoir

"My experience with Western Washington University’s “Memory to Memoir” class has been incredible—a five-star rating. Under the superb guidance of award-winning author Laura Kalpakian, I have greatly improved my composition skills, developed a serious discipline for the craft of writing, and become closely connected with Bellingham’s large and supportive writing community. I strongly recommend this course for anyone who enjoys writing and has stories to tell." – Joe

"Laura Kalpakian is a skilled writer, with the patience to wade through her students’ modest efforts and identify their strengths and weaknesses.  Her suggestions for improvements are spot on (as well as tactful).  She demonstrates how to use the tools of fiction writing to make a nonfiction story engaging, and we all made great strides in our writing." – Tina

"I recently completed the nine-month Memory to Memoir program taught by Laura Kalpakian. The experience, the journey of melding together into a cohesive writer’s tribe as we grew and learned, wrote and rewrote, will have a lifetime impact on my writing, my future literary endeavors, and on me as a person. I cannot recommend this program highly enough, and I attribute its benefits to the instructor, first and foremost, and to my wonderful classmates that shared this journey.

Laura Kalpakian is a prolific, award-winning, many-times-published author who also possesses the gift of drawing the best literary work from her students. She is generous with sharing the tricks of the trade; adamant when critiquing students’ work when she knows what they’ve written just won’t work; insistent upon proper style and formatting; and encouraging when one of her writers falters.

Lest you think that this is just an emotional accolade, may I present the facts: Of the 11 students who completed Laura’s course this time, most have received literary honors during the three quarters of the class: inclusions in prestigious poetry journals, creative writing collections, prizes and honors, the publication of their work, scholarships to writing seminars, and our youngest member has been honored with a place at an exclusive Berkeley writers’ consortium. Students from Laura’s previous classes have had books accepted by major publishing houses.

Any writer who is eager to learn how to turn his or her memory into a memoir should consider this program, this journey of learning and sharing, and the possibility of becoming a voice in the literary world." –Debbie

“When I signed up for Western's "Memory to Memoir" course, I never dreamed it would lead to a new career path and a brand new business for me. I took Laura Kalpakian's wonderful course to fulfill a personal need for self-expression and to hone my creative writing skills. There was no commercial application whatsoever in my mind. But as I wrote chapter after chapter of my own memoir, I started to wonder if there might not be people in our community who would similarly like to tell and share their stories, but needed some help.

A Google search led me to the Association of Personal Historians ( and today I am the owner of a successful business, Memoir Crafters. As a personal historian, I take the most daunting and overwhelming aspects of writing one's memoir out of the equation for my clients. Through a series of relaxed conversations that are digitally recorded, clients simply talk to me about their lives. By careful editing of the transcripts of those interviews, I develop lively, first person narratives which become the manuscripts for clients' memoirs. Next we select the cherished photographs and other memorabilia to be included. The resulting products are professionally designed, heirloom quality books that clients and their loved ones will treasure forever.” – Sara


Page Updated 06.12.2014