World Lit and New Horizons

May 11, 2021

Kiana Yarbrough makes a successful transition to university life.

There is confidence in Kiana Yarbrough’s stride to the front of the room. She doesn’t read, she looks at the class, and her ideas tumble out. And while she’s filled with the excitement of her newest ideas, she delivers her presentation with poise.

Yarbrough is a first-year student, double majoring in psychology and English, but she isn’t on a “straight line” career path. Once, she wanted to go to med school and become a psychiatrist but now she’s looking for the right fit. She does know that she wants to work in the medical field, and she wants “to have connections with patients.”

She has decided to major in English as well as psychology, based on her experiences in high school. She loved writing and received compliments from her teachers. She strives to be able to form concrete ideas with her words. “I want to tell a story and have people see that story,” says Yarbrough. 

Her Spring 2021 classes are helping to seal the deal. The move to Duluth opened one new world to her. She took it all in: the landscape, the lake, hiking at Split Rock, going to Canal Park, and seeing the Glensheen Mansion. The World Lit class is opening many more new worlds to her. 

“I’m passionate about the World Literature course.” she says. The books on the reading list come from around the globe. They include Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Untouchable by Mulk Raj Anand, Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, and There There by Tommy Orange, among others. 

Choosing UMD and Thriving

The transition to UMD didn’t come easy. A family crisis made her wait until the fall semester of senior year to think about what college she would attend. “[I] pushed off [the] decision as much as possible,” says Yarbrough.  

Her family moved into her grandparents’ house in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, after her dad was diagnosed with a disease. Yarbrough was in fifth grade. 

She watched her mother make sure the family’s needs were taken care of and at the same time give Yarbrough special attention.  “My motivation for continuing my education and becoming successful is to give back to my mother,” she says. Yarbrough said her mother had always been there for her, and she “supported me through the tough years of high school.” 

Interesting classes and enjoyable friends have made the move to college life smooth. “I was lucky to have found a good group of friends,” says Yarbrough. Dorm life suited her and the people on her floor were inviting, which made COVID-19 a little more bearable. 

The future is unknown for Yarbrough. Given the success of her first year at UMD, it’s sure to be positive.

About the Department of English, Linguistics, and Writing Studies

About the Department of Psychology

This story was co-written by UMD student Eva Moua, who is majoring in communication. Eva works with Cheryl Reitan in University Marketing and Public Relations.