EricaHometown: Charlotte, NC

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Professional Interest:  I am interested in being an educator, mentor, and advocate for students to help them navigate to and through the various aspects of their college experience. I hope that my efforts contribute to students learning more about themselves and others and how they want to positively impact their campus and the world.

Previous Experiences: Prior to joining the Academic Guides team, I worked in higher education spaces at the intersections of academic affairs, student affairs, and multicultural affairs. Peer mentoring programs were a major part of that work, and I enjoyed creating programs that helped incoming students transition and helped returning students gain leadership skills.

Education

  • Ph.D., Educational Studies (Cultural Foundations), University of North Carolina-Greensboro (in progress)
  • M.Ed., Counselor Education (Student Affairs), Clemson University
  • B.A., Sociology, Davidson College

Intellectual Interests: Intersections of gender, race, class and the media, particularly around the experiences of women of color

Fun Facts: 

  • My nephews are two of my favorite people on the planet.
  • I’m a glasses enthusiast. I’m rotating between at least three pairs at any given point in time.
  • I love the computer game The Sims. I’ve been playing some version of it since high school.

What was the most challenging part of college for you? What did you learn from that experience?  
Being an introvert in a culture (socially and academically) that caters to extroverts was the most challenging part of college for me. I was never the first one to speak in class, and sometimes there were classes where I didn’t speak at all. That didn’t determine my level of engagement in the learning experience. I also usually avoided the events and spaces where there were large groups, but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t interested in connecting with individual people or the campus at-large. I had to learn to see my introversion as a strength and not a deficit. One of those strengths that I bring to my role as an Academic Guide is that I’m very observant, and I listen intently. This has allowed me to create strong relationships with students and colleagues and to take time to process and reflect to thoughtfully contribute to the larger goals of the team.

Looking back, what would you tell your college-aged self?
In the words of the illustrious Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, “Take chances. Make mistakes. Get messy.” I played it pretty safe in college; I wish I would have explored more. One of my biggest regrets was not studying abroad. I would tell myself that growth doesn’t happen in your comfort zone.

Who had the most positive impact on you in college? 
I could name a few people, but one of the people that definitely had a positive impact on me was a fellow student, David Dennis, Jr. He was two years ahead of me at Davidson and was the leader of Shades of Brown, the step team I joined as a first-year student and would eventually co-lead during my junior and senior years. He was and still is a great example for me of what it looks like to integrate intellectualism, creativity, and care for your community and is also just be a fun person to be around. He’s a super dope journalist now and writes about pop culture, race, sports, politics… really all of the things. You should definitely check out his work. So many of the people that I would name on the list of those who positively impacted me in college would be my peers, which is one of the reasons I’m passionate about cultivating spaces of positive peer influence on college campuses.

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Chase Black

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Sarah Eisensmith

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Debbie Hughes

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Erica Wallace

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