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Successful & Blessed Life:
Sue Ellen Bridgers,
Novelist – Speaker – Teacher

By Becky Palmer

Native North Carolinian Sue Ellen Bridgers lives in the mountains of western North Carolina in the small town of Sylva. She and Ben Bridgers were married while she was a student at Eastern Carolina University. Once the family moved to Sylva, their youngest child began school, so Bridgers finished her college career at Western Carolina University. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1976. Her husband, Ben, has maintained a well-known law firm in Sylva since their move from the eastern part of North Carolina.

Writings of a local legend

Sue Ellen Bridgers is a local legend and inspiration. She published her first book in 1976. She has written seven novels that are still used in schools and colleges. Her books are read by a wide audience of young adults. The stories are based on characters who face issues as young adults trying to maintain their morals and individuality while tackling the many troubles inherent in an extended family. Her books give reflection to the life experiences that she recalls of being a young woman.

Bridgers discussed the struggle of getting published, which she claims was the hardest part of writing. She confided that the days of handing in a written manuscript for publication are over. The new way for writers is via the Internet and other modern technology. It has taken the perserverance that she has exemplified throughout her career to achieve her accomplishments as well as adapt to a world of new technology.

Reading to write

Bridgers’ advice for English majors and writers is to read. "Rreading is essential to writing. How can you write if you never read?” she asks. She would like to see more English majors become teachers. “Our schools need them,” she adds.

Now Bridgers is a writer, speaker (when asked), and a teacher. She is currently teaching creative writing at the Brasstown Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. She has begun to write more short stories, which is more compatable with her life. “A novel takes a long time,” she explained. Writing has been a very important part in every aspect of her life and continues to fill much of her time.

However, she is looking forward to retirement, “whenever that may be,” she sighs. “It seems there is always something to write.” She has enjoyed her writing career and all of the extras it has provided her family. Bridgers continues to enjoy her career, her life, keeping up with the kids and grandkids, travelling, and staying healthy.

Becoming an achiever

Her education at Western “has been valuable to me in that I appreciate the advanced level English classes, my continuing friendship with students and faculty, and the ongoing academic achievements of the English department.” Her time at Western helped her to develop the necessary tools to reach higher goals in her life. It made her an achiever.

These profiles were created by the Karen Greenstone's English 303 class (spring 2009)
and edited for the web by Mary Adams's English 303 class (summer 2009).

Students in Mary Adams's English 303 class (fall 2009) wrote additional profiles.