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Campus Cutie: Valerie Keys

Name: Valerie Keys

Year: Junior

Major: Communication Studies. Minor: Political Science

Hometown: Fayetteville, NC

Instagram: @thatsovalerie

 

 

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]

Brea is a junior majoring in Communication Studies and double-minoring in Journalism and Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She aspires to start her own non-profit multimedia company to get high school and college students of color connected to global missions. Some of her biggest hobbies include reading Marvel comics, listening to podcasts and checking out art galleries. Fun fact: she loves visiting new cities and going downtown to check out the local art galleries, coffee shops and restaurants that can't be found anywhere else.
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