Sophomore Spotlight: Nia Marshall

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Through her visual art and music, sophomore Nia Marshall hopes to foster spaces of empathy for herself and others. For Marshall, the journey is all about finding the freedom to explore and refine every facet of her creativity as she forges her own path at IYA and beyond. Read on...

What does being at the Academy mean to you?
To me, being at IYA is about having the freedom to explore and refine every facet of my creativity, which is something I️ haven’t fully experienced in any other academic space. Though this environment allows me a great deal of flexibility in how I️ choose to execute my ideas, it also provides me with structure, which constantly forces me to perform at my best.

What is something about the way the world works that bothers you? How would you disrupt it?
Currently, what bothers me the most is how irrationally judgmental many people can be, and the gross lack of empathy that some humans demonstrate to each other. I think these two things stifle creativity and freedom, which, in my opinion, are the most beautiful parts of life. I️ want to disrupt this by using my unconventional art to promote independence, positivity, and open-mindedness. I also want to demonstrate that people can coexist with those who have personalities that are vastly different from theirs.

What are three goals you have for this year?
1) To release and perform music regularly.
2) To finish every project I start.
3) To share every project I finish (that means they all have to be worth sharing!)

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Who is the most impressive famous person alive today? Why?
To me, the most impressive famous person is Beyonce because of her unshakeable work ethic. That woman isn’t successful only because of her talent — she is probably one of the hardest working entertainers, if not THE hardest working entertainer in the industry. She really motivates me to continue to strive for excellence.

Let's say you were miraculously provided $1,000,000 in seed funding tomorrow, what would you create?
I would create a clothing company that allows people to order custom, high-quality clothes online by inputting their measurements into a web app or mobile app. Being 6 ft tall, I am often disheartened to find that most clothes don’t fit me because they are not made to suit people like me. I think everyone deserves to feel cute all the time, which is why I want to create an all-inclusive brand.

If you could ask advice from any historical figure, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would ask Galileo what the best way to cope with loneliness/judgment would be.

Describe one thing most people don’t know about you?
A lot of people back home don’t know I sing, but I feel like more people here at USC know because I’ve shared my music more since I got here.

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What is one thing your parents taught you that you’d like to share?
You shouldn’t compare certain outcomes in your life to other peoples’. Someone may approach their life in a way that effectively meets their needs, but if you begin to navigate the world in the same way that they do, that doesn’t mean it will make you feel complete in the way that it does for the aforementioned person. No two people have the same needs, thus you shouldn’t look to others’ lives as a complete template for yours.

What will your future self accomplish?
Uhhhhh… some pretty cool stuff I hope, but I don’t really know exactly what yet. That’s why I’m here.


What are the essential things you always keep in your backpack?
Lip gloss and my rhyme notebook (for writing down my lyrics/ poems/ drawing cartoons/ general ideas).

Favorite app or website?
The Pattern app.

If you could be best friends with one fictional character who would it be?
Malcolm from the movie Dope.

Thus far, what is your favorite place to hang out in or around campus?
The grass in McCarthy Quad, under the trees where students sometimes hang hammocks.

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