Chris Neal on the UNCW campus

May 13, 2022

Chris Neal wasn’t very involved in his community when he was in high school, but that changed when he came to UNCW.

“It’s important to take on a student leadership role to be a factor of change from within,” said Neal, who will earn his creative writing degree in May.

Neal, a native of Wake Forest, has been heavily involved in student organizations during his time at UNCW, often serving alongside university administrators. He has been a student representative on the Chancellor’s Renewal and Change Accountability Committee for the past two years. The committee works with the university’s administration to develop strategies and propose solutions to address diversity, equity, equality and inclusion issues. He also was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Office of the Dean of Students.

Neal’s service also includes serving as president of the Black Student Union; as a member of the Creative Arts Club; UNCW’s Chapter of the NAACP; Speechawks, a speech and debate team; and Alpha Omega, a Christian student organization.

During his freshman year, Neal co-founded UNCW’s poetry club, Rhyme ‘N’ Reason, and served as its president for three years. He is also the founding member and social chair of Black Boy Joy, a Black men’s union, and founder of the Coalition of Black Student Leaders. He supports Black affinity organizations on campus and is an Upperman African American Cultural Center ambassador.

“I hope I leave behind a legacy of revolution and of ‘each one, teach one.’ I want students to realize the power that they hold and that they can create true change.”

Neal credits the support of his parents and Upperman African American Cultural Center director Sean Palmer for his success.

“Sean is my biggest cheerleader on campus, and his support means I know there is someone who believes in me whenever I don’t believe in myself,” Neal said. “He has been a mentor, brother, father figure, a shoulder to cry on, friend, and more during my time here at UNCW.”

Neal hopes to start a career in the creative industry, specifically entertainment, after graduation and a short break.

“Eventually, I want to be able to write books centered on Black people in fiction, fantasy, sci-fi and horror,” he said. “Being able to create stories from my collective experiences and transform those ideas, thoughts and experiences into something expansive and amazing for others to enjoy has been my inspiration.”

-- Venita Jenkins