By Indiya Clarke ’26
Inspiration comes in many different forms. For Nicke Haney, growing up as a latchkey kid was her inspiration for founding Brown Girls Read.
Haney, who now serves as the organization’s CEO, remembers being a child and waiting for her parents to come home from work. She used the time to read and journal, which led to an appreciation for the power of words.
“I would write about all of my experiences with my friends in my books,” says Haney, an English teacher at McCracken Middle School. “So that’s what inspired me to get my degree in English. The written word is a powerful thing.”
She began sharing her passion for books with girls ages 10 to 14 through Brown Girls Read, founded in January 2020. The club meets twice a month, September through May, at CC Woodson Community Center. In June, Wofford College’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion hosted the club for an overnight camp on campus. This was Brown Girls Read’s first overnight event and the start of a continuing relationship with the college.
The 26 girls who attended this year’s camp did much more than read. They wrote poetry with Dr. Bria Harper, assistant professor of English. Dr. Stacey Hettes, professor of biology, led them in an activity that extracted DNA from fruit. Jessica Scott-Felder, associate professor of studio art, taught a workshop that involved painting portraits and making collages. The girls also played games, watched movies and even held snakes.
Wofford student Arnise Wright ’24, a biology major from Goose Creek, South Carolina; Taylor Fuller ’24, a biology major from Roebuck, South Carolina; Nadia Ferguson ’25, a chemistry major from Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Maranda Brown ’25, an international affairs major from Covington, Georgia, volunteered to help campers throughout the weekend.
“I’ve been able to form a relationship with the girls and with Miss Nicke,” Wright says. “She has been very supportive. “I never really thought about intentionally looking for books that reflect who I am until Brown Girls Read. So, I think that is my biggest take away from the program.”
“I feel like Brown Girls Read is setting me up for the future because the knowledge that I take in from the books I read can be used as life lessons,” says 11-year-old London Fernanders. “Miss Nicke helps us with our personal stuff. I’ve gotten better at things that I struggle with.”
Haney’s goal with this year’s camp was to show girls that no dream is too big and that if they put their minds to it, they could end up in college at a place like Wofford one day.
“The goal of this program is to expose girls to what’s possible.” Haney says. “A lot of girls can’t dream because they’ve never been exposed to anything. They don’t know what to reach for because they haven’t seen it.”