Nneka Howell symbolizes success as a published author and full time student

Nneka Howell may appear to be an average student at the University, but with two published works already under her belt and a third on the way, she enjoys the privilege of considering herself both a full time student and published author.

Howell said she has been writing all her life, amassing many poems and short stories along the way. Howell focuses mostly on her poetry and has earned the nickname “Lady Poet.”

“My poetry is a variety of everything. Some of my inspiration comes from personal experience and others come from things I observe here,” she said.

Howell has to face many struggles when juggling school work and her writing career. Her first published book, “A Poet’s Heart,” was written during her freshman year while taking 18 credit hours.

“It’s really hard. I have two jobs right now and I’m a full time student, but I feel like I have to get my message out there and that keeps me going,” she said.

Part of Howell’s message deals with her belief that people give up too easily. She said she wants people to know that life is so much more than it may sometimes seem.

“There is always more to live for, more to fight for,” she said.

Howell’s first publisher, Liberated Publishing, said they applaud her for sticking with her writing and living up to the message she is trying to send out to her readers.

“Student writers come a dime a dozen, however those dedicated enough to the craft to put their work in print are rare gems,” said Richard Garrett, who was involved with the printing, publishing and marketing of Howell’s first book.

Howell said she took many English classes at the University, which have helped her with her writing success. Along with those courses, Howell took other unrelated classes that also helped supply her with the tools she needed in the publishing world.

“I took a public speaking class and that’s really important because last year I did a few shows in Chicago. Before taking that class, public speaking was always dreadful for me and it was good to practice at it before I had to read my poetry in front of an audience,” Howell said.

Just like facing a fear of public speaking, Howell said students who are interested in publishing need to overcome their fear of rejection and “just do it.”

“What I tell people who are interested in getting published (is) you just need to write from your heart and get it done,” Howell said. “Find a publisher you can trust and it might be a good idea to look the company up on the Better Business Bureau. Get into contact with someone and get your work out there.”

Her second book, released in 2010 and entitled “Real Women Get Their Hands Dirty,” draws its inspiration from a campus source—Ikenberry Residence Hall Area Coordinator Jason McKean.

McKean said he was a sort of mentor to Howell while she worked under him as the outreach coordinator of I-SPARC, or Illinois Students Providing Advocacy Resources and Connections.

“Our president resigned and Nneka had to take on a lot of those roles. She picked up the slack as her job evolved and I really think that illustrated her leadership skills,” he said.