Brianna Wiest, a 2013 graduate of Elizabethtown College, is making her mark on the literary world. Wiest is the author of many articles that have been published in a variety of well-known magazines, such as Huffington Post and Teen Vogue. She has not stopped her writing escapades there. Her outcoming work is her introduction to the world of poetry in her first book, “Salt Water.”
While at Etown, Wiest was an English-Professional Writing major at the College and earned her bachelor’s degree in three years. She looks back at a course with professor of peace and conflict studies and current Peacemaker-in-Residence Jonathan Rudy as one of the most influential courses she took at Etown.
She advises current students to focus on developing valuable skills rather than focusing on the grade they achieve.
“I think college students put too much pressure on themselves to perform well, and not enough pressure on themselves to develop their unique interests,” Wiest said.
She shares that, apart from the degree, students need a lot of skills.
“You have so many opportunities in front of you to experiment, learn and teach one another . . . take them,”Wiest said.
As a former Editor-in-Chief of The Etownian, Wiest says the newspaper was her favorite part of Etown. The Etownian was where she made friends she still keeps in contact with today and worked on developing the skills she currently uses.
The many classes, internships and jobs she held added to her skillset.
“I am so grateful for all of that, and think back on it fondly,” Wiest said.
While completing her degree from Etown, she constantly submitted articles to publications and eventually had articles that made the most-read list of the entire internet.
Upon returning to New York City after graduation, Wiest soon moved back to Lancaster County. She is currently an editor at Fine Living Lancaster and was previously an editor for Thought Catalog online magazine.
Another one of Wiest’s writing projects is the online magazine Soul Anatomy, which focuses on mental health and emotional intelligence. Many of Wiest’s articles are aimed at becoming more aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, which help readers feel more at peace with themselves.
“I just wrote about whatever interested me personally, or what I really needed to read at some point in time in my life,” Wiest said.
Wiest has always looked up to her maternal grandmother.
“She is so endlessly selfless, positive, funny and loved… I hope to have a big family that looks up to me the way we all do her someday,” Wiest said.
In her upcoming poetry book, she experiments with a new kind of prose. She claims writing the poetry was a passion project, and she will most likely not write another poetry book.
“I used to think poetry was so serious and difficult, but I actually found it to be a lot easier than other writing,” Wiest said.
She found it cathartic to write and create poetry without any expectations.
Wiest says she is surprised people wanted her first experience with poetry to be published.
“I learned that poetry is whatever you make it,” she said.
Wiest continues to write articles for a number of mainstream publications as well as pursuing her own projects.
Wiest shares the highlights of human psychology and the best ways to attain better mental health.
As a former Etown student, she looks back at her time here and wishes she had worried less and fully enjoyed it more.
“Figuring out my own issues has fueled most of my work,” she said. “Now, I’m inspired by living the way I always wanted to. Calmly, happily, with gratitude for the simple things.”