This is inspiration: the class of 2024

In her four years at Lenoir-Rhyne, a favorite activity for English major Kiera Elliott ’24 is unexpectedly quiet – relaxing in the Cromer Center, writing poems, possibly with a spicy Chick-fil-A sandwich nearby. 

Kiera Elliott standing in front of the Rhyne Building

“I came to LR with the intent to major in English,” shared Elliott. “It’s a versatile major that offers a lot more options for career paths or graduate study than people might think at first glance.”

Elliott’s unwavering interest has been creative writing, and her long-term goal is to become published one day. She started writing fiction and poetry before high school, drawing inspiration from a wide range of authors and voices across many genres.

"I love writing because it takes me out of reality, but it also gives me a voice to challenge and change it,” said Elliott. “An important inspiration for me is Amanda Gorman, American poet and activist, who presents very powerful poetry that addresses many of the topics we aren’t normally comfortable talking about. I have aligned myself with those same ideas, that same approach, in my own work.”

As a Lineberger Fellow, Elliott has also worked closely with the Visiting Writers Series, which has introduced her to new inspirations and challenged her personal growth. She recalled a favorite moment during her time at Lenoir-Rhyne that also became one of the defining moments in her growth as a student and scholar.

“When I came to LR I was very introverted and shy, but in 2022 I worked the Visiting Writers Series event for Chimamanda Ngoni Adichie, who is a feminist author and poet from Nigeria,” said Elliott. “I decided at that event to push myself out of my comfort zone to interact more, greeting guests and being an ambassador to the university. I thought, ‘This is so unlike me, but it's more fun than I expected.’ I was proud of myself then and in how I’ve grown since.”

In 2022, Elliott became an editor for Cantos, the annual student literary magazine where LR’s undergraduate writers, artists and photographers showcase their creative works. For the 2022-23 and 2023-24 editions, Elliott shared the job with another student to better manage the workload. Through her work with Cantos, Elliott learned the craft of editing and found joy in approaching writing from the other side of the desk. After college, she is considering pursuing editing as a career path – unless she moves into technical or video game writing.

Keira Elliott stands in front of the Rhyne Building

“Through Cantos, I have been able to see work from students all over campus and I feel like it really connects me to them -- just reading someone’s short story or poem and thinking, ‘Hey this is really nice,’ allowed me to admire the creativity of my fellow classmates,” shared Elliott. “The professional experience I have gained from this opportunity has also been extremely beneficial for my future. For example, running programs like Affinity for editing and layouts has expanded my skills for the workplace.”

Throughout her time at LR, Elliott attributes her successes to the support she has found in the faculty and the community. She pointed to Cade Hamilton, instructor of communication as a pivotal influence on her growth.

“I’ve known Dr. Hamilton as my debate team advisor, but he is also like a father figure to me. You can tell he genuinely cares about his students. He will always be honest with you, and that was invaluable to me,” Elliott shared. “It has been great to know I can foster connections like that, which reminds me of how LR pushes you to network and build relationships. If I could tell future students anything, it’d be that you can always find a place for yourself here, whether that’s a group, a staff member, a professor, or a fellow student. You just have to take the steps to connect.”

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