Chavonn Reed, senior academic adviser for the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, is co-author of The Table: Stories of Black Women in Student Affairs. The book is an anthology of trials and triumphs that 11 women of color encountered while working in higher education. It aims to fill a void in literature about universities.
“There is almost nothing out there by or for black women in student affairs, so one message of this book is that we aren’t alone,” Reed said. “We see this book as an opportunity to open the discussion and build empathy.”
Since the book’s publication earlier this year, its authors have been invited to speak at multiple colleges and universities. Upcoming dates include a reading at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland, and a presentation to students in the VCU School of Education’s Master of Counseling program.
Reed’s chapter is titled “Innocence Is Not Bliss.” In it, she details her journey from “military brat” to university professional. After growing up experiencing many world cultures, she had a “shock to the system” when she first saw higher education’s struggles to build equity and inclusiveness.
“I thought going into education would be a good way to avoid politics,” she said with a laugh. Losing that innocence and deepening her understanding of the culture — and cultures — of academia reinforced her passion to be an advocate for all students. She is excited to pay it forward.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to tell my story and be part of a book that promotes discussion and begins changing a culture,” she said.