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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC CHAIR MEMBER SHEWANDA RILEY SHARES HER EXPERIENCES AS A BLACK WOMAN IN EDUCATION

NE associate English professor and TCC chair member Shewanda Riley poses on a swinging bench on NE Jan. 27. Her office is in NFAC. Photos by KJ Means/The Collegian
NE associate English professor and TCC chair member Shewanda Riley poses on a swinging bench on NE Jan. 27. Her office is in NFAC.
Photos by KJ Means/The Collegian

KEYLA HOLMES
campus editor
keyla.holmes@my.tccd.edu

Teaching and sharing people’s stories, including her own, is an important part of best selling author, podcaster, associate English professor and JCC (Joint Consultation Committee) chair member Shewanda Riley’s life.

Riley didn’t know it at the time, but experiencing heartbreak after the end of a relationship put her on a course to not only grow as an individual, but progress in her career as a writer. 

“I kept a journal, because I didn’t want to throw a brick through his car window and get arrested, or slash his tires,” Riley said. “You do a lot of things when you’re in love. You get devastated and hurt. It’s about what I ended up doing – which is turning those journals into a book.”

She never thought she’d write “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends”, but when the opportunity presented itself she told her story, became involved in educating others, and ended up helping those interested in telling their own stories.

“That experience of getting dumped led me to do something I never thought I’d do – write a book. Which then led me to do other things like teach college English,” Riley said. “I wasn’t teaching English at the time, even though I wanted to, I was doing radio full-time, but that one experience led me to being a writer now for a newspaper in Dallas that I’ve done for over 20 years – Dallas Weekly. I do writing workshops and I’ve helped other people get books published by coaching them through the process.”

Sharing her story with others was important to her and felt like the right thing to do.

“I really felt led by God to put my story out there, because it would then help other people, so that’s what I did,” Riley said.

Riley, the product of a military household, was able to experience the vastness of the world, and develop important parts of who she is today. It helped her to develop a love for travel, and created a sense of curiosity for the world around her.

“It was interesting being able to travel to different countries, and then hear my father talk about his experiences, because it allowed me to see how big and wonderful the world is,” she said. 

Editor of her high school newspaper and yearbook staff, Riley wanted to gain  experience in what she calls “the real world”.

“I would answer the phones, help them with a little bit of coffee, as well as writing and editing,” Riley said. “I was only in high school, so they would never give me a big story, but I remember that experience led me to really thinking, ‘Okay, I think I want to do this professionally.’”

Along with her teaching and writing career, Riley also utilizes her radio background in her podcast, The Chocolate Auntie.

“I love my nieces and nephews,” Riley said. “I did research to see that there aren’t a lot of podcasts that deal with the experience of the African American aunt.”

With her experiences and desire to share her love of being an aunt, she developed a podcast focused on the importance of the role.

“My hope with the podcast is for people to see the value that aunts bring to the family structure,” Riley said. “I especially want African American aunts to be seen as the pivotal figures and roles that we play within the African American community.” 

Learning how to exist and thrive in predominantly white spaces taught Riley how to show up authentically and passionately, greatly impacting her relationship with herself and her future projects, like The Chocolate Auntie.

“It could be challenging because there were times when your opinion wasn’t valued,” Riley said. “There were times when your abilities were not appreciated. Even though the space itself may have been uncomfortable, it was very important for me to be authentic. Even if the people around me didn’t get it, that was okay.  I’ve learned that you just have to be authentic and true to yourself.”

Riley’s involvement at TCC is important to her as well. Her love for working with students has been the foundation of her time on campus.

“My first ten years at TCC, I was just teaching because I love dealing with students,” Riley said.

Asst. English professor Annette Cole said Riley incorporates the skills she’s gained in her journalism career in her teaching at TCC.

“She’s innovative and seeks ways to engage her students,” Cole said. “Her teaching composition classes affords her the best opportunity to bring in her journalistic experience and her awareness of issues that face our students.”

Aside from the knowledge Riley is able to share, Cole said her influence is of great value as well.

“Dr. Riley has encouraged me to be more positive and accept that the challenges in our lives are there to strengthen and refine us,” she said.

She’s a member of the JCC, joint consultation committee, where she is able to do something she loves – helping others.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of my own leadership, vision, and my leadership values, it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Riley’s book also led her to an important realization about her service to others.

“In the end, the book helped and continues to help people deal with the devastation and disappointment of a romantic heartbreak, but then it also allowed me to realize that there’s a legacy that I leave behind with words that I write,” she said.

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