Virginia Western Students Win Poetry and Visual Arts Contests; Poet Earns Spot to Compete for Statewide Title

Virginia Western is pleased to announce the winners of its inaugural Virginia Community College System Poetry & Visual Arts Competition.

Participating students submitted original poetry and visual artworks during February and March interpreting the theme “I Belong.”  The program aimed to foster a sense of community and belonging at Virginia Western and across the Virginia Community College System. Twenty of the 23 colleges in the VCCS participated in this first year of the Poetry & Arts Competition, which was supported by the VCCS Advisory Council on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Culture.

  • Virginia Western Poet Laureate for 2024 – Chanlee Luu
  • Second place in poetry – Jennifer Sheppard
  • Third place in poetry – Emma Turner
  • Virginia Western Art Visionary for 2024 – Samuel Evans
  • Second place in art – Amelia Smith
  • Third place in art – Austin Dovel

Winners at Virginia Western received $200 gift cards, with second place winning $100 and third place winning $50. Chanlee Luu also won a spot to complete for statewide honors. College poetry winners from across Virginia will participate at a live performance of their original theme-related poems at the Dickinson Fine and Performing Arts Center at Piedmont Virginia Community College in Charlottesville on April 6, and a chance to be named “Poet Laureate” of Virginia’s Community Colleges. A panel of distinguished judges will determine the winner of the competition based on the individual’s original poetry, a private interview and the Saturday performance. 

You can learn more about the April 6 event and register for free tickets here.

“The work of our students is wonderful,” said VCCS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Carla Kimbrough. “I’m so grateful to college coordinators who organized the competitions at their colleges, and the judges at the college level who helped us find true gems of creativity in this inaugural event. We are so excited to showcase the message of belonging from our talented poets and visual artists from so many of our colleges at our April 6 event.”

With the support of Virginia’s Humanities, the winners from all 20 participating colleges will have their poetry and visual arts featured in a book to be published this summer. The Virginia Humanities grant also supported professional development for the college poet laureates and top visual artists.

Additionally, Virginia Western is hosting an open mic event for all of the College’s student participants on April 16.


Virginia Western Community College is a forward-thinking community college inspiring individual, community and economic transformation. It provides quality educational opportunities that empower students for success and strengthen communities. The College provides credit academic programs and noncredit workforce training along with distance learning online and dual enrollment courses in area high schools. To learn more, visit  

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