Alumni in Action: Arianne Payne ’20 shows persistence is key

A passionate and successful writer, Payne credits her time at Elon and the Black Alumni Scholarship for helping her achieve greatness.

Arianne Payne ’20 is a highly successful, first-generation college student from Chicago who graduated from Elon with a double major in communication design and English.

Payne was well-decorated during her time at Elon having received both the esteemed Lumen Prize for her research in telling the stories of Black women and the Black Alumni Scholarship. This scholarship, awarded to her as a rising sophomore, gave her the resources needed to stay at Elon and she believes that the scholarship transformed the trajectory of her Elon career.

“The Black Alumni Scholarship gave me the space to find my way,” Payne said. Payne has also shown her appreciation for the Black Alumni Scholarship by making financial contributions to it in the past.

She grew more confident in pursuing a career in creative writing and developed her passion for mentorship in education. This passion was born while working as a resident assistant at Elon and connecting with students, many of whom she remains in touch with today. Payne also served as the vice president of the Elon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, all while being actively involved with the Center for Race Ethnicity and Diversity Education (CREDE).

Fast forward two years and Payne has continued her passion for writing and community work while gaining extensive experience working to intercept poverty and create better educational institutions in her community. Since graduating from Elon, she has enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at George Mason University and is working as a graphic designer for SimplyBe., an organization responsible for corporate branding. Payne is on track to graduate from the program in 2024 with a focus on poetry.

Graduating during the pandemic, Payne noted the uncertainty of her post-grad experience but credited Elon with providing her with the tools to persist and succeed. “You will not be the same person when you leave Elon as when you came,” Payne said. “You have a lot of power and agency in who you become over the next four years,” she continued.

Payne encouraged students to get involved on campus early in their college careers and make lasting connections that matter. Giving her final thoughts, Payne advised students to reach for the stars. “Apply for scholarships and fellowships that you think you could never get, because you just might and it might change your life,” encouraged Payne. “Your future is bright.”