Winning Essay: What Maya Angelou's Writings MeanTo Me

March 8, 2012

Congratulations to first place contest winner Nikaya Johnson for the essay she submitted to the "What Maya Angelou's Writings Mean To Me" competition.  Ms. Johnson and two other Communications Arts majors won tickets to hear Maya Angelou speak on March 22.

Students in Dr. Poe's Communication Arts Spring and Spring 1 classes submitted essays for the contest and an anonymous donor contributed tickets to be awarded to the top 3 essay writers. The five-judge panel included several community members, faculty members and the anonymous donor. The winners were: lst prize - Nikaya Johnson; 2nd prize - Charvas Singleton; 3rd prize - Brittney Young; Honorable Mention - Brittani Christian. And to make the honor extra special, the contest winners have been invited to join the Keystone Honors Students on stage for the program.    

What Maya Angelou's Writings Mean to Me, By Nikaya Johnson

Her words are powerful, meaningful, and inspirational. Her writing has brought the best out of me. She has taught me to believe in my voice. I was searching for my talent, searching for the meaning of me.

When I came across a book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou, she describes being silent for awhile because she thought her voice would hurt people. But her words uplift, they give hope.

I didn’t know my voice until I began to write. Being a shy little girl I was very mute. But I realized by writing, my voice meant something; I began to live through my words. Maya Angelou’s writings and teachings give me confidence and motivation to understand who I am: a phenomenal woman. Her writings mean a lot to me because I once was a caged bird, but I found my voice.

I understand what it meant for the caged bird to sing and why Maya Angelou found her voice again. She used her voice and her words to empower and inspire the black community. My favorite quote from Maya Angelou is, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” I have an untold story that I will one day tell and I hope that it will inspire and empower others, just as Maya Angelou has done for me. I can now sing because she taught me how. I have found my voice. That’s what Mrs. Maya Angelou’s writings mean to me.