“Writing is an extension of oneself. When I write, I can show the parts of my soul, and heart that aren’t visible to the naked eye. Writing allows one to bring another layer of themselves into the world, and it can be a truly beautiful process.”
These are the illuminating and introspective words from College of Staten Island (CSI) English major Shantel Rowe ‘17. The Verrazano School student has written for The Banner and the Verrazano Voyager as well as for her own music blog, “Call It What It Is.” Also a performing artist, Rowe has played the guitar since she was 15.
With a wide range of influences including Amy Winehouse, Rupi Kaur, and Sylvia Plath, Rowe also attributes her passion for the pen to her mother. “I had always enjoyed writing, as my mother is a writer herself; however, I began taking it more seriously once I entered high school. I was challenged to write poetry, journalism, and creatively—and writing every day essentially helped me connect more with the craft,” commented Rowe, who carries a 3.9 GPA, with a concentration in Writing and a minor in Journalism and American Studies.
Some of her favorite pieces for The Banner include her commentary on Rihanna’s Anti album titled “Rihanna Takes on New Tone with Confidence” and also “Nina Brings the Drama Onscreen and Off,” an article about the controversy surrounding the Nina Simone film, Nina, which largely spoke to colorism in Hollywood.
Balancing life as a busy artist and devoted student, the recipient of a CSI Foundation Scholarship has also worked closely with Ava Chin, PhD, researching Chinese immigration into America. “We primarily focused on Dr. Chin’s family’s immigration, predominantly in New York City in the 18 and 19 hundreds; however, our research also speaks to Chinese immigration as a whole. I feel as if this work deepened my knowledge of immigration but more importantly of New York geography and how history plays its role in that. Of course, we know about certain neighborhoods living in New York; however to truly understand the history and dynamics behind Chinatown is something that is truly culturally enriching. To walk along Mott Street or Bayard and look at buildings that aren’t just structures, but artifacts/stories, is truly fascinating,” noted the 21-year-old Grasmere resident and Brooklyn native.
Dr. Chin was equally pleased to work with the student. “Shantel is a rare combination of old-soul maturity mixed with quirky brilliance. She has a keen and intuitive writing voice, a sharp eye for detail, and a great sense of musical styles—it’s been a pleasure to watch her grow from being a talented freshman to an outstanding senior. I could not be more proud of her,” Dr. Chin commented.
The graduate of the College of Staten Island High School for International Studies says she is “humbled” by her experiences at CSI and by professors who “have assisted with both my academic and personal growth.”
“Once you enter college, you learn more than you ever could anticipate, not just academically, but socially, culturally. As an individual, I’ve significantly grown because of my experience here; I’ve experienced so many opportunities where I stepped outside of my comfort zone in the classroom and around campus, and because of that, I feel as if I’ve been very humbled,” said Rowe, who plans to pursue a doctorate and become a music journalist and college professor.
Charles Liu, PhD, Director of MHC and the Verrazano School, praised that, “In this increasingly media-blanketed world, we are fortunate to have Shantel and her brilliant, thoughtful voice to help us make sense of what we see and hear. It’s great to have Shantel as a member of the Verrazano School and the larger CSI community.”
Rowe’s advice to her peers involves both mental and physical commitment in order to achieve success. “Mentally, you have to focus on your goals and set forth the steps to achieve them. This means networking, going the extra mile, and staying organized. Physically, these steps can be made by remaining an active voice and participant on campus,” she said.