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Atlantic Cape Alumna Soleil Yakita Turns Youthful Passion for Reading and Writing into Published Literary Work

01/10/2024 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
Atlantic Cape alumna Soleil Yakita in the William Spangler Library

MAYS LANDING — From an early age, Atlantic Cape Community College alumna Soleil Yakita was exposed to time-tested and treasured fairy tales, such as popular children’s authors the Brothers Grimm and J.R.R. Tolkien to Hans Christian Anderson and others, by her mother and father. Thus, over the years, she has developed a deep love and passion for reading and writing that grew exponentially during her time at Atlantic Cape.

“The mystery and magic of these tales piqued my interest in the mystical and extraordinary, thus steering my writing in a fantastical and whimsical direction,” said Yakita, who admired writers Mary Oliver and Robert Hass for their focus on life, death and nature, while drawing inspiration from classic authors Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley and John Steinbeck. “I feel that my love for writing evolved from my love for reading. I enjoyed the characters and worlds I explored through books so much that I couldn’t wait to create my own.”

Alumnae Spotlight on Soleil YakitaDuring her freshman year at Atlantic Cape in 2020-21, Yakita admits to not spending too much time independent writing. But, it was in Associate Professor of English Rich Russell’s Creative Writing I class in Yakita’s second year (2021-22), and in her first attending in-person, where she ultimately rekindled her intense desire for the craft of the written word.

“Engaging with other students who had a genuine interest in writing, receiving feedback and encouragement on my own assignments, as well as being exposed to a variety of new authors, revitalized my motivation and interest in creative writing,” said Yakita, who earned an Associate in Science Degree in Liberal Arts with an English option in 2022.

A subsequent 14-day winter term Poetry Workshop with Russell stoked her creative fire to focus primarily on writing poetry over prose. The frenetic pace of the abbreviated term’s schedule required daily selected readings of poetic verses, and discussion posts and responses.

“I pushed myself through each incoming challenge and I watched my skills improve from assignment to assignment, which was very motivating for me,” said Yakita, who lives in Absecon and is currently majoring in Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing at Stockton University.

The fruits of her academic labors and literary imagination soon become evident:

“Sonnet No. 1”


In folklore wild, and restless tales unwind,

In hidden pages, places—hallowed ground,

Unravel secrets mortal and divine,

Do go and seek what yet remains unfound.


Adventure, book-in-hand, by firelit warmth,

To worlds of warlocks, witches and wishing wells,

Where foolhardy knights hunt dragons but for sport,

Among illusions, magic brews and spells.


Yet where such greed and war and pain pervade,

Just under different nations, flags, and stars,

It seems a trickery, calling it escape—

For save the face, the beast’s the same as ours.


But lessen not a bit, does the allure,

‘Tis fiction that the heart does hunger for.


Soleil Yakita in the William Spangler LibraryYakita’s poetic prowess was recognized when “Sonnet No. 1” was published in the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Honor Society’s prestigious 28th Annual Nota Bene literary journal. Nota Bene is the nation’s only literary anthology featuring excellence in writing among community college students. Nota Bene, which is Latin for “note well,” is PTK’s honors anthology. It recognizes outstanding writing of PTK members and demonstrates to the literary public the academic excellence and commitment to scholarship found at community colleges.

Yakita explained the inspiration behind the penning of her 14-lined gem.

“My inspiration for writing “Sonnet No. 1” was my long-standing love of fantasy-fiction. What I have always found rather ironic about the fantasy genre is that it offers a magical escape; however, many of the problems that plague the ‘real world’ are present in these fictional stories, though they are naturally more digestible in a context removed from our own reality,” explained Yakita. “I wrote ‘Sonnet No. 1’ with the intent of acknowledging that human nature and the historic desire for escape through storytelling always prevails, even if fantasy is sometimes little more than a warped mirror of the world’s social climate.”

Russell had nothing but praise for his former student.

“I think her poetry is her true strength, comfort, and passion. Soleil has a keen sense not only for language––for the close observation of words and their component sounds, which is the very definition of nota bene––but also for the rhythm and structure of a poem,” said Russell. “I have been fortunate enough to see her work evolve since her time in my classes as she continues to experiment with different forms of poetry. She is also a brilliant visual artist and often publishes her work in zine form, with intricate layouts and original illustrations.”

Poetry is a soothing medium for Yakita, one that she turns to as an outlet and emotional catharsis. She states that her mind is always coming up with something fresh and, thus, always has a collection of drafts awaiting her finishing touches. During her time at Atlantic Cape, Yakita was a member of the PTK Honor Society, Pride Club and Rewrites. Examples of her poetry, digital art and photography were published in the 2022 edition of Rewrites

Soleil Yakita at Atlantic Cape's William Spangler LibraryYakita, who currently works part-time as a library assistant and English tutor at Atlantic Cape’s William Spangler Library on the Mays Landing campus, remains flexible when considering her professional career options once she graduates from Stockton University.

“I view the future as a wide-open expanse. I am not sure if my career, itself, will intersect with writing; however, I hope I find myself in the literary field. Museums, bookstores, libraries… I feel most at home in these environments,” admitted Yakita. “Above all, I just want to remain connected to the local arts and writing community wherever I end up living. I draw a lot of inspiration and motivation from spending time in (creatively) like-minded company.”

You may read Soleil Yakita’s “Sonnet No. 1” in the 28th edition of the PTK Honor Society's Nota Bene.


About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape Community College is a Middle States accredited, 2022 Achieving the Dream Leader College and Hispanic Serving Institution proudly serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. As a comprehensive, two-year community college, Atlantic Cape offers 47 undergraduate degree programs, and 33 certificate and workforce development professional series programs at its Mays Landing, Atlantic City and Cape May campuses. Atlantic Cape is home to the renowned Academy of Culinary Arts, rated the top culinary school in New Jersey, and for more than 50 years, our highly-acclaimed Nursing program. Atlantic Cape also partners with several four-year universities to offer students the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree without having to leave home.