Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Najya Williams is an undergraduate student at Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Throughout her academic career, Najya has committed herself to academic excellence, community involvement and social activism. She is an alumna of School Without Walls High School and The George Washington University via the GW Early College Program. During her time in, she devoted a year and a half to a sociological research study that analyzed the language used by community service organizations to describe the communities they serve. Given Najya’s unique perspective on the intersection between service organizations and rhetoric, her article was published in Penn State Berks’ Undergraduate Journal of Service Learning and Community-Based Research in January 2016.
Beyond her academic endeavors, Najya advocates for prioritizing self-care and self-preservation, especially in the Black community. Some of her commentary and personal reflections about the importance of self-care can be found on her blog and several online publications, including ForHarriet and Healing Points. Additionally, Najya has remained on the front lines of social activism inside and outside of the Black community as a protester, writer and most notably as a spoken word artist. She began writing poetry at the age of 8 as a means of healing after her maternal grandmother lost her battle with colon cancer. However, it soon became her passion and purpose in advocating for the change needed to create the society she wanted to see. During the 2016-17 school year, Najya was honored by The Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations and Harvard Black Men’s Forum for her empowerment efforts in the Black student community on and off the stage. As she approaches the release of her debut chapbook, Cotton, a look through her eyes as a young, Afro-Caribbean woman living in America, Najya is more than excited to fuel a fire that is so desperately needed in the world we live in today.
Looking ahead, Najya aspires to become a pediatrician or neonatologist, and continue her activism via spoken word poetry. A born leader, fearless community advocate, and woman of faith, Najya plans to allow nothing to stand in the way of her dreams, and she hopes to continue changing minds, hearts and souls one word at a time.