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WKU Gender and Women’s Studies holds open mic night in remembrance of Daishyera Garner


WKU Gender and Women’s Studies hosted an open mic night on Thursday, Feb. 15 in honor of Daishyera Chanel Marie Garner, a WKU student who passed away in November.

Hosted by graduate student Sydney Their, the space was designated for students, faculty and others in attendance to share creative works on the topics of gender identity, sexuality and women’s experiences. 

It was also an opportunity for those who knew Garner to tell stories and share with each other the mutual love they had for her. 

Other performances at the open mic night were on the topics of equality and acceptance, experiences with violence and the struggles men face when they seek support for mental health. 

Kristi Branham, gender and women’s studies professor, described Garner as tenacious, goal-oriented and relentless in her pursuits. 

“Daishyera was unapologetically Daishyera, and college was the chance to level up the goals that she had,” Branham said. 

Garner insisted that people know her, Branham said. She was a natural leader, and people were drawn to her.

“Daishyera’s loss is a tragedy,” Branham said. “What I want students to take away from this is that you matter to us. You are more influential in our lives than you will probably ever know.”

Nia Queen Douglas, a senior from Louisville, read a poem titled “Black light, North Star, an epiphany” for Daishyera. 

“Mutual disdain for anything ordinary,” Douglas said. “Mutual love for everything spectacular. Black queer joyfulness wasn’t displayed in a white blizzard.”

One of Garner’s best friends and roommates, Iyanla Shackelford, read a journal entry to the audience about her relationship with Garner.

In her speech, Shackelford described her emotions about the loss of her friend and recognized the value and importance their friendship had on her life. 

“Daishyera challenged me to consider that good things were happening to me because I deserved them,” Shackelford said.

Vivian Carlson, who was in an anthropology class with Garner, said that while she didn’t know Garner for very long, she made a lasting impact on her. 

A nickname many used for Garner was Daisy. 

“I see Daishyera everywhere,” Carlson said. “I never really liked daisies, but I see them everywhere now.”

News Reporter Madison Carter can be reached at [email protected]


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