Moses Wamalwa has been writing poetry since he was young, winning his first competition in just third grade when he wrote a poem about what he feels when he looks at the American flag. Imagine what a third-grader, who spent the first seven years of his life living in Kenya, must have said in that poem.
Although he was born in New Jersey, Moses' family is originally from Kenya and relocated several times for his father's job. From Kenya, they moved to New Jersey and then Illinois before settling in Berks County when his father began teaching at RACC.
Moses at 19 is the second-youngest of five siblings and attended high school at Wilson, where he was in the National Honor Society. After graduating from high school, Moses spent a year studying at the United States International University in Kenya, before enrolling as a Psychology major at RACC in the fall of 2012.
While his physical address changed with the moving through the years, writing has always been a constant. Along with the contest he won with the flag poem, Moses also finished first in a school-wide poetry competition later in elementary school, which made him realize that he had a talent.
"I have always excelled at all aspects of English and have been a strong writer," Moses said. "Realizing that I could write and having all my teachers expect me to be good at poetry helped me to develop my poetry skills extensively."
"I have a very strong language and reading foundation and was blessed with excellent English teachers throughout my middle and high school years and I was able to really soak in a lot of techniques," he continued.
Most recently, he cited Mrs. Elizabeth Taylor from Wilson who appreciated his work and reinforced his belief and confidence in himself.
As he continued to write, he submitted several of his works to online magazines and received commendations, but said he hesitated to share at school. "I didn't submit much because I was still writing highly personal poems that I wasn't comfortable sharing with people I knew," he said.
"I try to address a variety of issues with my poetry but for the most part the poems are just an expression of turmoil I am facing in my life or things I am struggling with," Moses said. "I do make them inclusive enough that anyone who has experienced similar situation can put themselves in the poem.
"I use poetry simply as a vehicle of expression," he added. "One of my friends told me that I can make even the worst situation sound pretty with poetry. I have a lyrical way of writing and I delight in playing with words and sounds."
This fall, Moses's years of writing poetry paid off when he won a contest sponsored by Alvernia University. The contest was part of the Greater Reading Literary Festival and was open to all Berks County college students. Moses won a gift card and had the chance to share his poem during a visit to Alvernia as part of the festival.
While Moses is planning to continue his education in Psychology and eventually open his own clinic, he also has aspirations for his poetry. He would like to author a book and release a compilation of poems. He added that he also wants to become a traveling inspirational and competitive public speaker and slam poet.
"I hope to make an impact with my poetry," he said. "If I can just help one person with these words that sometimes flow from my pen almost by themselves then it will all be worth it."
Learn more about Moses and his work by visiting his blog at http://patheticwithpotential.wordpress.com/.