Black alumnae address diversity in tech comm

Four alumnae were featured in a December national roundtable on Black technical communication hosted virtually by Virginia Tech and attended by more than 500 people.

“Being Black in academia can be isolating, depending on who you are, what kind of work you want to do and whether there are people around you who support your endeavors,” said Constance Haywood `17, who received her master’s in English from ECU and is pursuing her doctorate at Michigan State University.

“When I came into ECU’s English graduate program, I was pleasantly surprised that there were multiple graduate students working alongside me who looked like me and could relate to me both culturally and professionally. The department solidified the importance of Black presence and voice in academia. Their dedication to diversity through the recruitment of Black students and the invitation of Black thought into classrooms not only shaped my graduate experiences but continues to shape my own work,” Haywood said. “Long story short, in order for the tough conversations to take place, Black people need to be in the room. At ECU, there were quite a few of us in the room.”

Cecilia Shelton `19, Temptaous Mckoy `19 and Kimberly C. Harper `12 received their doctorates in rhetoric, writing and professional communication from ECU.

“My time at ECU provided a space where I could exercise my intellectual muscles and grow into a scholar that is prepared to do work in a number of contexts. My mentors, colleagues and community were valuable collaborators and champions of greater inclusion and justice in technical and professional communication,” said Shelton, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland.

“Diversity and inclusion work requires a great deal of mental and emotional labor, and ECU assisted me in developing solid skills for identifying a work-life balance,” said Mckoy, an assistant professor at Bowie State University.

Harper is an assistant professor at N.C. A&T State University and founded “The Space of Grace,” a podcast on Black maternal health and reproductive justice.

“ECU gave me the tools to see the world through a wide lens,” Harper said.