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Keyana Williams ′12

Hometown: Fayetteville, North Carolina
Major: English (Creative Writing concentration), Gender and Sexuality Studies Minor
Fun Fact: I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was 12. I have a trunk in my room full of journals and mini-novels.

Keyana Williams, hailing from a military family in a military town, learned the significance of punctuality and of always having a plan early on. She decided long ago that creative writing would be her forte in college, and that is one thing that drew her to Rhodes.

“I came to visit Rhodes and really liked the environment,” Keyana explains. “Rhodes offers a creative writing concentration within the English major, and that’s what I really wanted to do.”

Keyana’s writing at Rhodes has included not only fiction, but also papers on significant works of literature that allow her to explore structural themes.

“I wrote a paper last year about a short story called ‘Sonny’s Blues’ by James Baldwin. The story is about two African American brothers in Harlem in the 1950s. One of the brothers teaches, he’s respectable and has other elements that go along with that image. The other brother plays jazz; he’s addicted to cocaine. I was just very interested in the construction of those characters.”

“In creative writing classes, we write a lot of short stories. One of my short stories is called ‘Eureka Springs’ and was published on an online literary journal called Fried Chicken and Coffee. It’s kind of a redneck, country-themed journal, and that’s what I write.”

“The funny thing about writing is, when you’re writing fiction, whatever is in your subconscious, it shows up in the writing. And so, in that way, writing is a very cathartic thing for me. A teacher once told me that writing ‘keeps your spirit alive,’ and I think that’s definitely what it did for me.”

Williams later plans to employ the therapeutic benefits of writing – and other expressive arts – for the benefit of others.

“I know that after Rhodes, I want to be a therapist, and the type of therapy I want to do is called expressive arts therapy. It incorporates artistic techniques like therapeutic writing, painting, music, and body work as tools to help people work through trauma.”

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