Anna Laurene Arnett, 92, graduated on June 4th with a Master of Arts in Creative Non-Fiction from Wilkes University. When asked what that degree is about, Arnett says, “That means you take the facts, and do what you want with them.”
Arnett attended Wilkes University’s satellite campus in Mesa. Of her program, Arnett says, “I attended their Creative Writing Weekender Program one weekend every seven weeks for a year and a half. They waived the first year because of my prior master’s and because I have several books already published.”
This is Arnett’s second master’s degree. She graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and education from Arizona State University in the 1970s.
Arnett is working on her third master’s degree. “This one is a Master of Fine Arts involving publications,” says Arnett. She is currently in her first class and is preparing for her thesis, after which she intends to earn her PhD.
Arnett says, “I appreciate studying and learning new things. I forget them too, and am getting good at that. My biggest problem is that I only read about as fast as I can talk.”
Her daughter provided the inspiration for her second master’s degree. “The morning of December 5, 2014, my daughter almost shook her finger in my face and said, ‘Mother, I want you to quit fiddling around with your poetry and fiction, and write down every story you can remember about our ancestors, because when you die, these stories will die with you.’”
Arnett’s daughter, Kat Ethington, says, “Mom has always been a good storyteller and writer. We all wanted to have the life history of her parents, my grandparents, and Mom has most of it in her memory. She is the only one left of her generation.”
Of her mother, Ethington says, “My mom wants to learn about everything and take all kinds of classes. Once she saw an advertisement on TV for a bar-keeping course and she said, ‘You know, I want to learn about that too.’”
Arnett credits her success in part to her past writing experience. She says, “I learned most of my writing skills from the ANWA, American Night Writers Association, a group for women writers who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, I learned to be more disciplined during my most recent master’s degree.”
Anna Laurene Lilijenquist was born in 1924 in Rexburg, Idaho. She married Charles Arnett in 1945. Arnett turned 92 on August 30. She has lived in Chandler, in the Gilbert Stapley Stake, since 1980. She and her husband Charles served a mission to Australia during the late 1980s. Arnett is still active in her ward and serves as the sacrament chorister.
Arnett is the mother of seven children, grandmother of 28, and great-grandmother of nearly 70. She has several books published, including Lolly’s Yarns: My Life as I Have Chosen to Live It, her own memoirs about her life with her husband Charles and raising their seven children.
Her second book is a volume of poetry entitled Just a Woman.
“I am in the process of publishing Forever Endeavor, the history of my parents, which I wrote as a memoir for my thesis. I relied heavily on a journal left by my mother.”
Arnett’s commitment to education and writing talent are two of many blessings she has enjoyed over her long and storied life. “I have a fair amount of good health for my age and feel very blessed by the Lord, and I have chosen to enjoy those blessings,” she says.