Katelyn Kornegay cracks open a Stephen King book.
Katelyn Kornegay cracks open a Stephen King book. The aspiring writer plans to transfer to UNC-W.

Writing the Next Chapter: Katelyn Kornegay

Reading and writing can be a place of retreat. When we face difficulty, we can find comfort in either someone else's imagination or our own. For Katelyn Kornegay, writing modern dark fantasy has helped her get through tough times. In a similar way, her experience at Beaufort County Community College has been a comfortable transition before she heads off to the intimidating world of a four-year university.

Kornegay is working on getting all her general education credits at BCCC before transferring to the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, where she plans to major in creative writing and minor in Spanish.

"My dad and I have a deal. He said, 'You can major in whatever you want, but you have to minor in something you could feed yourself with,'" she said. "There are a lot opportunities for interpreting out there."

Kornegay would be happy translating documents, but her passion is writing. She prefers novels, as she has trouble with exceeding word counts. "I can't confine myself," she said.

“My mom, she liked telling stories. My whole family is made up of book people. I used to tell my dad, if I had him and my mom and I didn't like to read, I'd be in trouble.”

Kornegay is part of the Write On Creative Writing Club at BCCC, where students have a chance to share their writing with each other. The students in the club mostly write in the fantasy genre.

"Fantasy, horror, sci–fi, I love that stuff." The Percy Jackson series captivated her to write. "When things start to get hard or I get stressed out, it’s easier for me to write about fantasy than real life. When those problems are big in a fantasy world, it's not necessarily big to you as a person. It's an escape from the conflict of reality.”

In the same way that writing is a sanctuary for Kornegay, BCCC has served as a familiar transition for the Washington High School graduate on her way to UNC-W.

“My mom and I talked. We agreed that a middle step between going to university and staying in a dorm and high school would be good.”

In high school, she was close with her teachers, so coming to a place where faculty knew her name and could talk to her after class felt familiar to her. Her mother always wanted to know what was going on with her education. She knew the head of the scholarship office and Katelyn’s instructors.

Being close to home also helped when Kornegay’s mother passed away unexpectedly in June 2017. It meant that Kornegay could be with her father as they dealt with the loss, instead of in a dorm in Wilmington. Faculty and staff at the college assisted her to make sure the family crisis did not disrupt her education.

Sanctuaries are not places we stay long. We retreat there to work through our thoughts and come out confident and composed. When Kornegay finishes her novel, it will be her way of engaging the world. Around campus, the self-proclaimed introvert looks up and smiles to greet other students. She is always happy to engage in conversation. She has clearly emerged stronger, and when she graduates BCCC, she will be ready to face university life and the world at large.