Top 5 Advice to Incoming MiW Students

Here is some of my advice to the new Minor in Writing students. This is what I would’ve liked to know before diving in.

  1. Have an idea of a passion of yours that you would like to turn into a project. This will save you a lot of time and confusion. If you have a genuine interest in something, turn it into a project and have fun! Have a clear vision.
  2. Keep working on the micro assignments throughout the semester. Keep up with your peer reviews, process reflections, blogging, and commenting. This will save you a lot of time and heartache at the end of the semester.
  3. Don’t come in with a lot of expectations. Enjoy the ride. Learn and grow. Bring in your passions and execute them to the best of your ability. It’s all about the process and the journey.
  4. Take at least one class with Ray. I was fortunate to have him for Gateway and Capstone. He is an amazing teacher and he will challenge you every class period to think beyond our normalized way of thinking. You will look forward to his icebreakers at the beginning of every class period.
  5. Have fun. You got accepted into the writing program for a reason. Enjoy the experience and have fun creating.

My advice to you.

How the MiW Will Help Me

I chose to do the Minor in Writing because the skill of competent writing is beneficial in every capacity. After graduation I will be a college adviser at Ottawa Hills High School through the Michigan College Advising Corps (MCAC). The skill of being able to write effectively is necessary in basic everyday life. This minor will always help me when I am writing my essays for graduate school and in my future as a potential journalist, if I choose to go this route for graduate school. This MiW has also helped me create a platform to showcase the research that I have accomplished about my family and genealogy. I greatly appreciate the opportunities that the minor in writing has given me go grow and create in ways that other writing programs wouldn’t have given me.

Thank you.

My MiW is Over =*^( #RayRay

I cannot believe that my Sweetland Minor in Writing experience is over. *After I finish these points* I had an amazing experience working with Ray for both my Gateway and Capstone. I am going to miss icebreakers before every single class. I literally looked forward to hearing what question he had to ask before every class period. Every time we met with him he was basically dropping a bunch of knowledge on us while we walked out of class contemplating what wonder of advice he gave us. He is one of the best teachers that I have had here at the University of Michigan. I’m happy that I got a chance to compile the research that I have found about my family in the capstone project with Ray’s help. Had an amazing two years with you Ray Ray! Thank you!

Kierra Gray #pivot #RayRay

Ahh. To think of my experience in the Minor in Writing and my undergraduate career in general is nostalgic. April 21st, 2014, actually marks the day that I completed by last final exam at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor. However, life has only begun. I have so many hopes and dreams in regards to my writing and career ambitions, plans, and hopes for the near and far future. Let’s start with the basics. I will be graduating from one of the best schools in the world with a concentration in Women’s Studies, a minor in Writing, and Afro-American & African Studies. I have so many interests that I don’t know what I want to do exactly quite yet. I know for sure that I want to attain a master’s degree, but a master’s degree in what is the question. I want a Master’s in Business Administration to complement my master’s degree in another specialty area, but let’s not jump the gun.

Although this is an exciting time in m life, I cannot speak on my future without speaking about my past. Sankofa. On June 10, 2010, I graduated from Southfield Christian High School. To finalize my senior year in high school, I chose an amazing senior project. I had the opportunity to work at the University of Michigan Detroit Office. It was my responsibility to gather admissions material from some Detroit Public Schools and assisted with the incoming freshman with their transition into the Summer Bridge Program. I was able to transition to the university through the Summer Bridge program two weeks after high school graduation. By the time the fall semester came, I was already familiar with the campus, and this made the transition less challenging. During my freshman year of college, I had the opportunity to begin to think about my identity as a Black/African American woman. I have always been interested in writing and people, but this is when I really began to narrow it down. I knew I was interested in Black culture and how my identity fit into my community. At first, I wanted to apply to the Ross School of Business and then I wanted to apply to Communication Studies. After I decided to forgo both of those options, I began taking a couple English classes and Afro-American & African Studies classes. While I was trying to decide if I was interested in public health, I took some Women’s Studies classes. I changed my major and minors over and over again. Fortunately, with the concentration and minors that I settled on, I could use the skills that I would gain in any field. It’s crucial to understand the Black American identity, to understand how that intersects with being a woman, and to have above average writing skills. This was the perfect fit for me. I knew I was going to graduate school anyway.

These last four years have been a crazy ride. I have had many ups and downs academically and personally. I am coming out a better person than how I entered the university, but I still have so much to learn and I am honestly still trying to find myself. I have had a chance to go overseas twice. During my freshman year, I participated in the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates. My plan was to go to Kenya, but that fell through so I ended up doing the Detroit site. For my next experience, I participated in the Contemporary London Program spring 2013. That was one of the highlights of my undergraduate career. I had a friend that was an exchange student from London living in the same dorm as me travelling back to the London around the same time that I was going. I also have a friend that has family in London that I had the opportunity to visit. Also, I have three other friends that were on exchange at Michigan, one from Japan and two from Australia that were travelling the world and decided to stop and visit me in London. My post-graduate plans involve me going abroad and planning my next big move.

Let’s start with my post-graduate plans for the next two years. I will be graduating from this prestigious institution on May 3rd, 2014. On May 15th I will be travelling to Ghana, West Africa. I have always wanted to travel to the Motherland and experience West African culture. This will give me a sense of returning home despite being generations removed from the continent. I will be conducting research about maternal and child health among women miners in Nangodi. I will be there until June 14th. When I return from Ghana, I will have a break for a couple days to get myself acclimated to the states and then I will begin training for the Michigan College Advising Corps. While I train for the corps during the summer in Ann Arbor, I will be doing an independent study within Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgrander, and Queer Studies to fulfill my final requirement. I will be studying attractionality among women of color. Upon my completion of training, I will move to Grand Rapids to serve at Ottawa Hills High School as a college adviser. This is an extension of my experience as a student leader at the Center for Educational Outreach.

In regards to my writing ambitions, I would love to run a blog about my experience being a Black woman living in the United States. I want to speak about my experiences, Black political and social issues, and maybe advice for Black youth. I want to share my experiences about attending a predominately white institution with youth planning to attend college. I would also have a section speaking about researching Black genealogy. During my freshman year, I began seriously researching my ancestry. With the information that I have found over the years, I hope to write a book. I want to entitle my book Sankofa: A Black American Story. I have in mind how I want to set the book up. It will be divided into three parts. Part 1 will begin in West Africa. Part 2 will be in the United States. Part 3 will be the present day into the future. I want this book to enlighten my fellow Black American’s about the diverse Black experiences and histories and encourage them to reflect on their past to understand their future. Sankofa. 

#Top10 by Kierra Gray #RayRay

These are the top 10 books I would encourage everyone to read. As a feminist woman of color, I may be biased, but these are on my list of books I have read and would like to read in the near future. This list is in no particular order.

  1. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa Harris-Perry
  2. Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley
  3. Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
  4. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde
  5. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe L. Moraga
  6. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment by Patrica Hill-Collins
  7. The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter G. Woodson
  8. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  9. The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
  10. The Bible

Journalism Talk at the Michigan League

James O’Shea is the Howard R. Marsh visiting professor in journalism. Yesterday he presented on his experience publishing and his book A Deal From Hell. Journalism is about going out and digging. It’s about finding the story. He believes that they haven’t done a good job at defining real journalism. He discussed the three things missing from a news agency: money, a philosophy, and no staff. Based of his ideas of not defining what real journalism is, I would agree. Also, in this current day in age, blogging as taken over and writing platforms have been redefined. I believe that many journalists have turned story more into opinion pieces. I find myself reading many articles and wondering why and how certain events even occurred. I want to know more than the surface story so that it will do justice to the victims or other people involved.

Conducted First Oral History

I interviewed my father and two of my uncles Sunday, April 6th. The process of interviewing was an amazing and rewarding experience. I had no idea what I was doing with the camera and had to use the mini tripod because the large one didn’t fit the Kodak camera that I was using. I will be utilizing iMovie software. I was wondering if anyone has any tips on how to edit video with iMovie. I want the video to be very nice, but simple at the same time because I am running out of time. I’m open to any and all suggestions.

I Can Finally See the Light

My project is finally coming together. I am interviewing my father and two of my uncles this weekend so they can talk about their Southern family life in Tennessee and what they remember about their grandparents. I wish I could get their other siblings involved, but they are all the way in Memphis, TN. I will be compiling a list of questions for them to answer together, but I want the questions to be more of a guide than a straight forward questions with a straight forward answer. I want them to be genuine and bounce ideas off of each other. I still plan on interviewing my maternal grandmother in Toledo, OH if I can get down there soon. I don’t think I will be able to interview my paternal grandmother. I have now entitled my project Sankofa: A Black American Story because Sankofa means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.” Sankofa is an Andinkra symbol. Here is the symbol below. I will explain more in my project.


I used a couple different Andinkra symbols throughout my project to portray different meaning.

Does anyone have any ideas or advice about how to go about my interview?

Advice and Ideas

Hey you all.

I am wondering how people are managing with racking up points to the capstone course while keeping up with working on the project. I am starting to move on up there with some points, but 2,000 is a lot of points to get in a short period of time. Also, can someone explain how to do the process reflection. Also, I need some ideas how to get 30 pages for this capstone project about my genealogy project. I am starting to panic. Any advice helps!



Figuring Out My Narrative

So, lately I have been trying to figure out what direction I want to take my narrative. I am writing it in the form of a story and trying to piece together the holes in my narrative. I am incorporating the emails from the family member that I connected with via The emails will serve as the story and my input in-between will be reflection on how to connect the past with the present to see how we can progress into the future. It will be a reflective story on my family and understanding how this made me the person that I am today. I want it to to be like I am speaking to my future children and telling them a story.