Home International student named first Poet Laureate of Virginia’s Community Colleges
Schools, Virginia

International student named first Poet Laureate of Virginia’s Community Colleges

Crystal Graham
ana leng poet
Ana Leng

An international student from Cambodia attending Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg has been named the first Poet Laureate of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Ana Leng was one of 18 poet laureates from participating community colleges who participated in the state competition at Piedmont Virginia Community College on April 6.

Participants were asked to propose a project that raises awareness of poetry. Participants were judged based on their submitted poems, their performance and an interview with a five-judge panel.

“As we were lined up on stage, I just remember thinking that everyone did so well and that each poem was so different and unique,” said Leng. “Hearing the host call out ‘Central Virginia!’ at first did come as a shock, but I remember feeling quite honored and grateful for the title and for everyone who helped me get to that moment.”

Leng came to the U.S. to pursue higher education and plans to transfer after community college and major in psychology.

With a passion for mental health, she hopes to pursue a career where she can help people overcome emotional and psychological challenges to improve their quality of life.

A Virginia Humanities grant supported professional development for the poet laureates. The grant also will support a book that will feature both poetry and visual arts.

“The talent of our students is inspiring,” said Carla Kimbrough, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer for VCCS. “I am so pleased that our students were courageous enough to be transparent and share their vulnerability. The arts, whether in words or visuals, are powerful. I am glad that we have a platform across the VCCS to uplift our talented students.”

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.