The Department of English is delighted to spotlight a selection of summer achievements from our amazing undergraduate students!
English and Sociology
Emory University, Class of 2023
Being both an author and an undergraduate student has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I fell in love with writing through reading, which was fostered through weekly trips to my local library as a child. There, I became a fan of the Angelina Ballerina series, so much so that I started writing Angelina Ballerina fanfiction at the age of five (though I did not know it was fanfiction at the time). My writing has since transformed into working on original young adult novels.
My debut is a young adult (YA) contemporary novel titled You Truly Assumed, which releases February 8, 2022 with Inkyard Press, a young adult imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I like to think of it as the Netflix show Dear White People meets Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, and it follows three Black Muslim teens as they navigate the summer before their senior year and the world of online activism. I started writing You Truly Assumed during my junior year of high school. This was around the time when the Muslim Ban was in the news and anti-Muslim hate was really being discussed due to how it was being used in politics. Additionally, growing up in the DC area and going to school in the city meant that politics was always in the background in my daily life. I think I was also processing the results of the 2016 election, and what that meant for me as a young Black Muslim woman.
As a Black Muslim woman author in a white male dominated industry, I’ve sought out spaces and connections where I am able to be surrounded or engaged with people who share similar backgrounds. Because publishing is such a white space, I’ve found it important to be able to support and to be supported by authors of color, especially Black authors. There has been progress in the industry, which I can tell just based on the difference between the books I had growing up and all the books that are being published now. But there is still a long way to go. One valuable lesson that I’ve learned is the importance of lifting as you climb. I was really grateful to have authors who saw me and recognized the value in You Truly Assumed. They shared a lot of their time and energy with me, and that’s something that I definitely want to continue to pay forward. A lot of times in publishing, and other primarily white spaces, there’s this narrative that there’s only room for one Black person. But the reality is that there’s room for all of us, and I think lifting others up really pushes back against that narrative.
While I’m still striving to find a balance between writing and academics and adjusting to being back on campus, I’m excited that You Truly Assumed releases during the spring semester and that Emory will be a part of my debut experience.