Words for Life

Dr. Arshi Rizwani-Nisley
DeAnna Nolan, an English major at LCCC.

Have you had that conversation with someone new, maybe it starts off with small talk, casual chat? Suddenly you find yourself caught up in a discussion with more depth, more emotion, more intention than you expected.

That's what it's like talking to DeAnna Nolan, an English major at LCCC. Her talent shouts, and her presence whispers.

Kristin Abraham, English faculty and adviser for the High Plains Register literary magazine, feels the same: "In my classes, DeAnna has produced some of the best poetry I have read from a student at LCCC," she said. "I can only begin to imagine the exciting ways her writing might continue to transform."

While in high school, DeAnna moved to Cheyenne from El Paso with her mother. When it came time for college, there were enough positives for her to consider LCCC, so she thought to herself "okay, I'll give it a shot."

And it changed everything.

She actually started as a geology major. Her love of rocks started young and has never left her; she still collects them. But she held a deep yearning, one that called for her to express herself as a writer.

Writing poetry since she was seven years old, the words give her an outlet that couldn't be found otherwise. "I want to explore. I'm trying to learn more about myself. It expresses me in ways that otherwise simply can't be expressed."

She started in Kristin's creative writing class, and they connected immediately. DeAnna joined the High Plains Register team, and she has been part of that staff since last spring.

She also works at the Ludden Library on campus and still manages to find time for her other true passion: dance. She works at Act Two Studios, where she gets to substitute teach in addition to helping around the studio.

Leslie Connaghan, the owner and director of Act Two, sees quiet strength in DeAnna as well.

"She has so very much to offer," Leslie said. "She's become someone I can count on to help me with so many things at the studio. Her kindness and humility set her apart."

Dance is a creative opportunity that relies implicitly on honing small nuances as part of the bigger performance, knowing that breakthroughs may be personal but understanding that they are invaluable to growth.

Which is a lot like writing.

"Writing may be hard, but I want that challenge. It's like ballet. I have these little goals, and when you reach them, it's like the biggest thing in the world." Her eyes let you know how absolutely sincere she is with this sentiment.

She's currently experimenting with narrative poetry and free verse. With the help of "amazing instructors" –
including Kristin Abraham, Leif Swanson, and Dave Zwonitzer – she has found a voice that wants to speak and to be heard.
In fact, one conversation in particular is indicative of her experience at LCCC, one that she says was literally life-changing.

"I went up to [Dave Zwonitzer] one day after humanities class. And we started talking about the universe, and it really just struck me, and I was so angry. I don't know why I was so angry, but I had to go back and talk to him. And I said 'tell me more about this, I gotta know,' and I was just all over the place, using a lot of hand gestures. When I was done, he said 'I think you're one of the smartest people I know.' And he said it with such honesty, no one has ever told me anything like that. I was blown away."

For someone who may not have always felt the confidence to do what she did, DeAnna's talents are undeniable. And it impacts those around her.
"She demonstrates a quiet leadership and strength of character," Kristin shared. "She sparks with creativity, insight, and empathy. Whatever she pursues, I'll always be proud to say I know her."

And what is next for DeAnna? She'd certainly like to be a writer, but she doesn't know. "Life has taken me down so many different paths that now I feel I can go anywhere and be satisfied.

"As long as I keep following what I want to do, it'll lead me to where I want to go. And I'm okay with that."