UH student inspires youth with ‘Life’
Like many college students, Brandalyn Gill is often busy as she pursues a degree in management. In between study sessions, she runs her own publishing company and promotes her book, and squeezes in speeches when her schedule allows, at schools and events around Houston.
And while most people would be amazed with her ability to get it all done, the most impressive thing about it all is that Gill is an 18-year-old UH junior.
“I’m a workaholic,” Gill said. “I believe in progressing and doing more than expected.”
Gill finished her high school curriculum at the age of 15. One year later she completed the manuscript for her book, “Life,” a collection of short stories and poems she began writing at nine years old. Since then she has published the book through her own publishing company and hopes to start a foundation aimed at motivating young students to foster their creative talents.
At an age when most of her peers are just beginning their college journey, Gill is nearing the end of hers, with plans to graduate in May.
“My age has definitely been a vice and a virtue,” Gill said, and added she has been questioned and underestimated by many as an adept business manager.
“I expose my age to motivate the youth but I receive a lot of backlash, especially from professionals. You would think people would welcome someone young doing good things and trying to provoke change, but I would say I hear negativity from six out of ten people.”
As a child, Gill was enamored with the UH institution and never considered attending another university.
She enrolled in August 2010, and said that the campus has lived up to all of her expectations.
“UH has some of the most exemplary programs and the networking opportunities are amazing,” Gill said. “The culture is incredible and I appreciate what this school has to offer.”
Gill credits her work ethic and business acumen to her father, a retired Marine Corps veteran currently overseas who raised her after her parents divorced. During rough family episodes, Gill first gained praise for her poetry from teachers in 5th grade.
“Writing was my emotional release during those times,” Gill said.
Believing that public high school would not sufficiently challenge Gill, her father had her homeschooled year-round.
He also motivated her to establish her own publishing company, Illumination Literary Publishing, and Gill hopes to spread the lessons of creativity, self will and determination he instilled in her to all young students through her “This is My Life” project.
Gill unveiled her program at Welch Middle School on Sept. 2. She wants to develop it into a six to eight week workshop in which young students write their own narratives, with the best selections being published through Illumination.
Gill’s story has been featured on venues such as Fox 26 News, and she said that most reporters are quick to point out the irony of her authoring a book called “Life” at only 16 years old. Already accustomed to this criticism, Gill no longer wavers in her response.
“We all have different things we understand and that we are able to offer, no matter the age,” Gill said. “In the book I’m just expressing my feelings and what they meant at the moment.”