First-year student Annie Agutu made her mark on Goshen College early in the school year, receiving third place at Kick-Off for her powerful poetry. But there is more to Agutu than just her poetry.

Born and raised in the small town of Kisumu, Kenya, a seven-hour drive from Kenya’s captial, Nairobi, Agutu attended a British system school and graduated two years ago. Shortly after graduation, her classmate’s parents wanted her to move to the United States with them; she agreed and moved to Richmond, Ind., where she attended and graduated from the local high school within a year.

She chose to attend Goshen College because she enjoyed the “smallness and the community and the fact that it’s a Christian school.”

She’s currently majoring in broadcasting and minoring in public relations and American Sign Language.

When asked about her poetry, Agutu said, “I’ve just been writing what I think for the past six years.”

It wasn’t until high school in the U.S. that she truly felt free to express herself through her poetry publicly.

“We didn’t have time to form our own opinion,” Agutu said as she described her schooling back in Kenya.

“Poetry is a way that I can express myself without really being judged, because poetry is like art,” Agutu said, “and art is generally appreciated.”

Agutu’s performed at Kick-Off in front of the largest audience she’d ever experienced.

“It was really nerve-racking, because I didn’t know how people would take it,” she said. “But when I started talking, the audience’s reaction made the performance feel natural.”

Agutu hopes to become more involved in other campus groups, such as Goshen Student Women’s Association, GCTV, The Globe and The Record.

She also looks forward to forming “a lot of close-knit relationships with others. There are a lot of cool people around here.”

Agutu speaks four different languages. Her first language was Swahili, and she quickly picked up the dialect of her tribe, Luo. Through the British school system she attended, Agutu learned French and English as well.

Agutu hopes to express herself freely at Goshen College and “use the space to think about what I want and not what someone else wants me to do.”