Vaniece Washington Profile

Vaniece Washington Profile

Student Feature: Vaniece Washington

By Steve Royek

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Many students across campus come to Rowan not sure of their course of study or their life’s path; most Writing Arts students, however, know by the time they come to Glassboro what they want to do with their lives: Write.

Sophomore Vaniece Washington, a dual major in Writing Arts and Radio-TV-Film, didn’t wait to get here to begin her creative career, though; she didn’t even wait to get out of grade school!

Vaniece, a native of Woodlynne, Camden County, was a published author before her graduation with honors from Paul VI High School in Haddon Township, Camden County, with her book “How I Overcame Middle School” – a young adult novel that had its beginnings during her free time in second grade.

An exemplary student throughout the time leading up to her enrolling at Rowan, Vaniece said she would finish her grade school classwork early and would start writing short stories about life in an elementary-level classroom. Her essays focused on ways young students can deal with the challenges of childhood, schoolwork, socializing, and related adolescent issues.

“My third-grade teacher saw some of my work,” she said, “and encouraged me to write more.” This positive reinforcement kept her going, and a first draft of “Overcame” (working title: “The New Girl,” not to be confused with the 2011-2018 TV sitcom) was well underway when she entered high school.

At Paul VI, Vaniece juggled her classwork and novel work with her time on the high school newspaper, The e-Talon, covering such timely issues as the Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate movements as well as the COVID Pandemic. “I also wrote about some school events,” she said, “but I found them kind of boring compared to my other articles.”

While making her way through high school, and working on her book, Vaniece said there never was a question where she would attend college. “I started looking at Rowan early on and, the more I learned, the more I knew it would be the best place for me to grow and develop my skills.”

“How I Overcame Middle School” was released by her mother’s personal publishing company in October 2020 in the middle of the nation’s COVID lockdown and, Vaniece said, it is experiencing moderate sales. “Overcame” follows 13-year-old Autumn Johnson as she deals with the challenges of being in a new school and of a competing crush she and popular girl Ivey Sanders have on class heartthrob Jackson Smith.

Vaniece said she’s received positive feedback from people who read her book and say it seems like a movie. “I’m hoping to someday screen write my own book and turn it to a book-to-movie deal,” she said, verbalizing a deep belief she has that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” which just happens to be the subtitle of “How I Overcame Middle School.”

Vaniece, who belongs to the Rowan Writing Arts Club, the Rowan Women of Color Alliance, and serves as a senator for the Rowan Cru, hopes to – upon graduation – use her dual Writing Arts/RTF degrees to pursue screenwriting and to keep writing and engaging in social justice issues.

What advice does she have for students considering a career in writing, in addition to her strong recommendation for them to attend Rowan? “Follow your heart,” Vaniece said, “and write about issues of importance that interest you.”