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Top 10 Scholar 2024: Erin Grier

May 2024

Spelman class of 2024 Top 10 Scholar Erin Grier

Spelman class of 2024 Top 10 scholar Erin Grier, an Acworth, Georgia native, is an English major with a minor in film studies and visual culture. Beyond her academic endeavors, Grier served as a tutor at Spelman's Comprehensive Writing Center and actively participated in S.K.I.R.T.S. (Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service), where she mentors students at the Barack and Michelle Obama Academy.

Grier's leadership roles include presiding over the Omega Xi chapter of Sigma Tau Delta and managing editor duties at the Spelman newspaper, The Blueprint. Notably, Grier interned at the White House and completed the College's WELS program (Women of Excellence in Leadership at Spelman) She made history as the second Spelman competitor in the Glascock Poetry Contest at Mount Holyoke College and is a proud member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.

Grier will pursue a career in publishing as a developmental editor and dreams of becoming a novelist.

In Her Own Words . . . 

When reflecting on your academic journey, what experiences do you consider most pivotal to your success here at Spelman?

Since my first year at Spelman, I have had several unforgettable experiences, such as becoming a correspondence intern for Vice President Kamala Harris in the summer of 2022 and being selected for the WELS Program. However, the most rewarding experience I have had over the past four years has been serving as a peer tutor in Spelman’s Writing Center.

I was nominated to become a peer tutor at the end of my freshman year. When I first became a tutor, I was nervous, and I wondered if I was qualified enough to help others with their writing when I still had so much to learn. I quickly learned that being a writing tutor is about so much more than just editing someone’s paper. Being a writing tutor gave me the opportunity to provide support for my peers throughout their journeys as writers and helping them became an important part of my growth as well. It brought me so much joy to hear them say, “Thank you, you really helped me,” or “I feel better” after they came in feeling anxious or stressed about their assignment. I consider it a privilege to have worked as a writing tutor, because it allowed me to connect with students from other disciplines in such a unique way. This position has opened so many doors for me and I will always be grateful for the relationships I’ve built from working in the Writing Center.

How have these experiences shaped your aspirations for the future?

As an English major, my classes were challenging and enriching. The class that was a turning point in my college career was "Seminal Writers in the African American Tradition," which I took in the fall of my junior year. I enjoyed reading and analyzing the work of important Black authors, such as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

The last book we read for the course was "Song of Solomonby Toni Morrison. It was the third Toni Morrison book I had read, and its powerful themes about taking flight and storytelling through intergenerational testimony resonated deeply with me. I was captivated by Toni Morrison’s storytelling, and I became even more inspired when I learned that before she was a Nobel Prize-winning novelist, she was an editor. She edited over 50 books across various genres while working at Random House in the 1970s. The world of trade publishing was not very diverse back then, but Morrison was able to amplify the voices of many emerging Black writers, ushering in a renewed appreciation for Black literature within the mainstream market. Thus, Morrison’s career sparked my interest in the publishing industry.

The connections and skills I cultivated while working in the Writing Center further cemented my career aspirations — I realized I could use my passion for literature to collaborate with authors and become a developmental editor.

Would you mind sharing your post-graduation plans?

I have accepted an offer to work as a marketing and publicity intern for Penguin Press (an imprint of Penguin Random House) this summer. I would like to gain work experience before attending graduate school to study communications.

As you embark on your next journey, what wisdom would you share with your past self just starting this journey?

My first week of college looked a lot different than I thought it would, mostly because I was taking classes from my room at home, an hour away from campus. Hearing my classmates talk about their experiences during Zoom classes made me wonder if I deserved to be in those spaces or if I was prepared enough.

I want to tell my younger self that she deserves a seat at the table and reassure her that soon she will realize that she has earned her place here. A Spelman alumna once told me, “Spelman is a gift you have to unwrap.”

To me, this means remaining open to the changes you will experience during your time here. It means taking risks and saying yes to opportunities that might seem daunting at first. If I could share wisdom with my freshman-year self, I would tell her that the first step to receiving all that Spelman has to offer is not being afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Unwrapping the gift of Spelman requires embracing change. I would also tell my past self to give herself grace and not be so hard on herself. I would remind her that she is strong, but she doesn’t have to carry everything on her own. It is okay to lean on the people who love you and ask for help when things get difficult. Sometimes, I felt overwhelmed, so I would advise my younger self to find balance and make time to do the things that give her joy.