virtual event; open to the public and all mentees & mentors; required for Nonfiction360 and College360 mentees
Join us for a Friday Night Salon that celebrates the importance of telling your story to the world. Emi Nietfeld will share how her college applications inspired a memoir, Acceptance, that she wrote and got published with Penguin Press and was chosen as a best book of the year by NPR.
For Emi, a former foster youth who experienced homelessness, the application process felt grueling and dehumanizing. In this talk, she’ll discuss how she used writing a book to reclaim her story. She’ll delve into how she navigated financial need to find a career that enabled her to make art. And she’ll explain how, and why, she fought to center her teen perspective in a book marketed to adults.
You won’t want to miss this inspiring evening with thought-provoking writing prompts and a chance to win a FREE copy of Acceptance.
Emi Nietfeld is the author of Acceptance (Penguin Press ’22) was chosen as a best book of the year by NPR, Amazon, and more. A Scholastic Gold Key Portfolio Winner, Emi is passionate about centering youth voices, especially those of fellow former foster youth. In college, Emi studied computer science and wrote her first book while working at Google and Meta. Today, she’s a frequent writer for places like The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Teen Vogue and a sought-after speaker in classrooms and companies. Originally from Minnesota, she lives in New York City with her husband and stuffed animals.
Learn more about Acceptance…
A luminous, generation-defining memoir of foster care and homelessness, Harvard and Big Tech, examining society’s fixation with resilience–and its cost.
As a homeless teenager writing college essays in her rusty Toyota Corolla, Emi Nietfeld was convinced that the Ivy League was the only escape from her dysfunctional childhood. But upward mobility required crafting the perfect resilience narrative. She had to prove that she was an “overcomer,” made stronger by all that she had endured.
The truth was more complicated. Emi’s mom was a charming hoarder who had her put on antipsychotics but believed in her daughter’s brilliance–unlike the Minnesotan foster family who banned her “pornographic” art history flash cards (of Michelangelo’s David). Emi’s other parent vanished shortly after coming out as trans, a situation few understood in the mid-2000s. Her own past was filled with secrets: mental health struggles, Adderall addiction, and the unbecoming desperation of a teenager fending for herself. And though Emi would go on to graduate from Harvard and become a software engineer at Google, she found that success didn’t necessarily mean safety.
Both a chronicle of the American Dream and an indictment of it, this searing debut exposes the price of trading a troubled past for the promise of a bright future. Told with a ribbon of dark humor, Acceptance challenges our ideas of what it means to overcome–and find contentment on your own terms.
all mentees, all mentors, program alum and the public