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Student Spotlight: Nia'Symone Francisco's Spoken Word Is Heard Loud and Clear

By Keith Morelli

Nia'Symone Francisco

TAMPA (August 5, 2021) -- Nia’Symone Francisco takes her academics seriously – she’s studying for a business advertising degree – because she knows that advertising and marketing is one of the many ways to make an impact on the world. She also is focused on the artistry that is the spoken word.

Amid strenuous classroom work, internships and other leadership duties at USF and beyond, Francisco remains true to her creative, cultivated side.

“I needed a way to construct my feelings in a manner that did not dismiss them, but rather celebrated them,” she said. “I started writing poetry when I was in fifth grade, but I only started reading them out loud this summer. I wanted to challenge myself, further break through my shell, improve my public speaking and increase my confidence.”

Now, she is a disciple of the spoken word movement and hosted a spoken word open mic night on campus.

“Students who attended went from dead silence to having deep conversations and sharing their social media to continue being a part of each other's lives,” she said. “As a leader, it was such a huge reward to know that I had the power to make a difference.”

Francisco has her own Instagram page called niasymonespeaks. She posts new spoken-word content, every Tuesday, on topics that range from self-love, racism, activism and growth.

“I love posting this content because I am able to connect with people on a higher level,” she said, “to make them truly think and feel something in their souls.”

Such a skill can only boost her career goals, of which inclusion and equity play a big part.

“When I graduate, I want to be responsible for what people see and how they perceive it,” she said, “and it is important to me that the content I create is diverse, inclusive and rejects all stereotypes. I want to see more people who look like me in commercials and representing mainstream products. People buy products when they see people they trust using them.

“I just know that there needs to be more people like me making the big decisions that influence what we see on the screen.”

Francisco said her degree in business advertising will provide the tools she needs to make her way to the top and call the shots and from there.

“I can pave the way for others in my demographic group who have the same dreams,” she said. “I love helping others and making a difference in the lives of others, whether it be personal or professional, and I feel that the opportunities and requirements of this degree are helping me to follow my passions.”

While she’s here, she wants to make an impact on USF as well. And she has started.

“During my first year at USF, I took it upon myself to apply for the Emerging Leaders Institute Program,” she said. “That program taught me the qualities of a true leader, someone who has the opportunity to guide others down a path of success while simultaneously learning about how they can improve their strengths and weaknesses.”

Her involvement there gave her the courage to apply for the Endeavor Hall Council, where she served as a mayor and has become one of the Bulls Night Out directors/event planners for the campus activity board.

She also has served as a mentor for incoming students of the Zimmerman Advertising Program, a program she has embraced since arriving at USF.

“Words cannot describe how honored I feel to be a part of such a personalized experience here at USF,” she said. “This program has opened the door to so many possibilities and has helped me realize that I am going to love the career path that I am currently pursuing.

“I can’t wait to see where this program takes me next.”

Colleagues and mentors are impressed with Francisco.

“The reason Nia’Symone has been incredibly successful is because of her character,” Carrington Price, academic adviser with the Zimmerman Advertising Program said in a reference letter. “Nia’Symone carries with her the passion and natural talents needed to make an impact in our college’s programs.”

Ever dedicated to the spoken word, Francisco, who maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and expects to graduate in December 2022, also serves as director of the 2021-22 USF University Lecture Series.

“I have enjoyed going from leading/bringing together a small community with my hall council, to serving as a student leader to the entire campus,” she said. “Being able to help others form connections and engage with people who they would have never had the opportunity to meet, is what drives me.

“When I see people feel comfortable and inspire students to speak up and share their own experiences, it makes everything worthwhile.”