“I think I’d be too scared to go on Jeopardy,” Kamiye Runsewe ’24 said, via a Zoom interview. “There are people who get on there and they’re so excited and then they flop. I don’t want that to be me. No offense to them, I’m sure they’re great people.”
Runsewe, a freshman in Berkeley College, notoriously watched Jeopardy every night it aired in the Berkeley North Court Mendenhall Room. She used to watch with her second oldest brother and compete against him with a point system they invented. She has kept up the tradition since arriving at Yale. Watching the episodes last semester while on campus with her friends remains one of her fondest memories of college so far.
From her home in central Maryland, she talks about everything from the Cheez-Its she has just bought (which taste weird) to the pink notebook in which she keeps her writing. In combination with her phone’s notes app, she has all her ideas and drafts compiled into the two.
“I consider myself to be a baby poet. I don’t really know what I’m doing, and that’s okay,” she said. “I just kind of wanted to try something new.”
During her senior year of high school, Runsewe began writing poetry for fun after her English teacher, Mr. Frank, said he wanted to see some poetry from students. She decided to give it a shot. Even after graduating high school, Mr. Frank continues to be someone she admires greatly.
“He’s probably one of the wisest people I’ve ever met … I think he’s just very in touch with himself,” she said. “He’s just the kind of person that’s super in tune with himself and with nature. And I think I want to have a similar kind of relationship with the world.”
Once she emailed him and told him she began writing poetry because of his class, he asked her to send some of her work. She refused. Runsewe says that she will not share anything with him until she feels “proud enough of it to share.”
She does not know if she will ever be fully proud of something, but says that being proud of your work might just be “a spectrum, that I need to get closer to one end of even if it’s not all the way at the very end.”
Runsewe almost did not apply to Yale, at first. She thought Connecticut was too boring to spend four years there. She laughs at the memory, saying that her mother forced her to tour the university one summer and she ended up loving it. Plus, it has Yoruba as a language, something she has been looking forward to taking while here.
After being born in Maryland, Runsewe moved to Lagos, Nigeria — where her parents are from — when she was a baby. Having lived there for a year, the family moved back to Maryland and has lived there since. She hopes to go back to Nigeria someday and spend more time there.
She also added that while she was considering a major in English, she wishes there was more diversity in the reading material of the classes. Some of her favorite books are “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “Their Eyes Were Watching God” by Zora Neale Hurston.
Beyond classes, Runsewe occupies her time in WORD, a spoken word group on campus, where she practices performance and receives feedback on her writing. Despite considering herself shy, spoken word was a welcome challenge that forced her to recite her poems with others and be vulnerable. Maybe someday soon she will share her writing with Mr. Frank.
“I don’t think there’s anything that I’ve written that I’m super proud of. And I’m not super upset about that,” she said. “I mean I’ll write something one day that I’m proud of, it just has not been any day so far … I kinda would like to write a novel some day.”
Ángela Perez | email@example.com