Name: Valerie Keys
Major: Communication Studies. Minor: Political Science
Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
Favorite Holiday: My Birthday
Best Show on Netflix: The Get Down
TV Show Character You Most Relate With: Issa Rae from Insecure
Her Campus: What is your favorite thing about UNCW?
Valerie Keys: My favorite thing about UNCW is the size. I love that we go to a campus where you don’t feel like you walk outside in you’re in everybody’s business but it’s small enough to where you can see someone you know everywhere. I like that we’re growing but I like that it still feels kind of like home.
HC: What are you involved in on campus?
VK: I’m currently involved with the Speechawks, the club that I founded my sophomore year. I’m the head coach of that. I’m also a staff writer for The Seahawks newspaper. And that’s pretty much it. Those are the things I attend on the regular.
HC: What gave you the idea to start the Speechawks Speech and Debate Club your sophomore year?
VK: I actually came to the university with the intent to start the club, it just took me a year to do it. Speech and debate have always been a part of my life and us not having a team made me sad. At first, I had the hope to start it and compete in it like I was before, but I had to understand that I would be planting a foundation. Doing it exactly the way I originally wanted wasn’t going to be an option, so I had to adjust and say that I’m starting this not only for me but for the next generation of people who come in looking for the same thing I was looking for. Here’s the thing, though: nobody can speak in public until they can talk about what they want to talk about. I really loved incorporating that part of it; mixing it with what you love, whether it’s politics or macaroni and cheese. I heard a speech from one girl talking about how her pet cow had just changed her life. It’s interesting to see how people find passion in anything and everything.
HC: Where did your passion for speech and debate come from?
VK: I’ve always had a hard time expressing myself with my mouth. I’ve always been a writer, so I feel like I’m better on paper, but I found through speech and debate that there’s such power actually verbally being able to say how I felt and why I felt it.
HC: What’s your favorite topic to speak on or debate about?
VK: Being black. This is not something “new,” per se, that I discovered but growing up in a predominantly minority area, nothing felt “different” to me. Everything and everyone was the same, so I don’t really understand how different I was and how different my culture was until I had been removed from it. Being removed from the largest military installation in the states to be in a predominantly white town and a predominantly white college made me realize how deep my differences went. So that’s always my favorite thing – to talk about representation, discrimination, racism and the like.
HC: What’s the most significant thing you’ve done in the past month?
VK: I acknowledged that I need to take better care of myself. I need to spend more time not doing anything; not being on my phone, not listening to music. It’s so important because we have a lot of distractions. Our minds are always filled, and there are always so many things to worry about. We really have to take time to relax our minds a little bit and just breathe.
[Photos courtesy of Valerie Keys]