Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Hilltop


Nok’khanya Edwards revives The Bison Yearbook after a two-year hiatus

Nok’khanya Edwards, a graduating senior, is looking to the future amid the class of 2024’s graduation after her time as The Bison Yearbook editor-in-chief.

Nok’khanya (Nokks) Edwards in front of Founders Library during her senior year at the university. (Photo courtesy of Nok’khanya Edwards) 

Nok’khanya “Nokks” Edwards said she used the university as an outlet to fulfill her artistic and professional goals. 

Edwards’s contributions continued to strengthen the reputation of the Bison yearbook for the 2023-2024 school year after its two-year hiatus. 

The senior is a TV and film major and photography minor from St. Lucia by way of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, South Africa. After being a photojournalist on staff for the yearbook for her junior year, she was nominated by the yearbook staff to go for the position of editor-in-chief for the following school year. 

She said initially, she was shocked to be nominated and was a little nervous because of the responsibility the position held. However, this nervousness served as her motivation to apply and take on the role. She added that she couldn’t shy away from an opportunity to become more involved.

Edwards said that working for the yearbook has been a very grounding experience. 

“To be able to build something from the bottom up and see it come into fruition helped me gain a lot of integrity for the work that I do,” she said.

Walter Severance, the executive director of campus life and head of the yearbook, said that Edwards had a remarkable journey.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

“She contributed in many ways by leading the Bison yearbook team and always [being] on the scene to capture images at all the staple HU events. She will be missed from the yearbook and university communities,” he said.

She lived her life traveling around the world, moving around the Caribbean from St. Lucia to the Cayman Islands and then Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Finally, Edwards, her mother and her grandmother settled down in South Africa. 

While growing up, Edwards said her family placed strong values on education and the importance of having a diverse perspective. They encouraged her to read voraciously and listen to a wide range of music genres, such as reggae, afro-house and other foundational diasporic music. She fondly recalled swimming as a central part of her upbringing, a passion nurtured by her Caribbean roots and the daily walks to and from the beach.

Edwards considered her mother and grandmother her most influential role models. They achieved master’s and doctoral degrees internationally, and their accomplishments inspired her to navigate her own path.

For high school, Edwards attended Waterford Kamhlaba (UWCSA), a South African international school, it is one of 18 schools in the United World College system that promotes education by “making education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future.” 

Edwards noted that while in high school, her mother purchased her first camera for her. She immediately fell in love with photography and film. Over time, she developed her passion for photojournalism and continued it professionally through the university yearbook. 

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

She said she always dreamed of attending a prestigious HBCU. However, as she lived outside the U.S., she was unsure of each school’s reputation and notoriety. 

Edwards was particularly drawn to Howard because of its strong alumni network in the arts and entertainment industry. She said she desired to be a part of this esteemed community.

“Howard has such a strong Caribbean and African influence, which I feel personally is enough to make me feel like I’m at home,” she said. 

Sydney Cooper, a senior criminology major and economics minor from Houston, praised Edwards’ warm and considerate personality. 

“Nokks is a dynamic force on campus, always busy with film projects, photography and yearbook editing. Howard can sometimes be difficult to navigate, but Nokks always ensures that those around her are caught up. It has brought me great joy to have a friend as helpful and hardworking as Nokks,” she said.

Edwards says that working for the yearbook has been a very grounding experience. 

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Throughout the 2023-24 school year, Edwards has been working to bolster the yearbook’s reputation. 

 “Hiring new staffers and implementing multimedia and graphic design in collaboration with a staff of photographers, writers and editors,” she said.  

Edwards recalled her favorite part of working as the editor-in-chief: being able to meet and interview Don Lemon, an American TV journalist whom she notes her grandmother watched avidly.

As an international student looking ahead to her future, she acknowledges that she is uncertain about where she will be working after graduation. She highlights the challenges she faces as an international student in the job search process and its disparities in comparison to those who live here. 

“I really want to bring some awareness to this topic because as an international student, the process to work within the nation is increasingly difficult, as you require visas and sponsorship in order to work,” she said. “Most companies would rather not sponsor [international] students for jobs or [would] pick those who live within the country, especially with me being focused in the arts.”

For now, Edwards is thinking about returning home to South Africa to continue working on her craft overseas.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Copy edited by Jalyn Lovelady

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


You May Also Like