Saturday, June 8, 2013

Roxanne Donovan...the Truth

Roxanne A. Donovan
Remember, back in the day, when we would speak about someone as being "the Truth"? It was street-talk that meant someone was especially gifted or extraordinary. Before that, we really used the phrase to describe what someone was doing: "he kicks the Truth;" "she spitting the Truth," you know, that kind of thing. Well, my homegirl Joycelyn Moody doesn't really use that phrasing, but if you condense all of what she was saying in the lead up to our guest speaker, you basically end up here: Roxanne Donovan is the Truth.

On Friday, June 7, Professor Donovan ran a workshop entitled "Black Women in the Ivory Tower: Stressed and Sick to Happy and Healthy" for our Fellows and a group of UTSA faculty members. Donovan is a professor Psychology at Kennesaw University, and her primary research concentrates on gender and racial oppression in the lives of Black women. Off the top, for her workshop, her coverage of stress, relevant research and findings, and stress management techniques was especially helpful in ways that many of us will be working out from months and years to come. Even long after the workshop, I kept hearing the Fellows say "I needed to hear that." Yes. Exactly.

It needs to be acknowledged, though, that a comparable high value feature of the workshop was the opportunity for our group to observe a sister-scholar dropping knowledge in her field. Perhaps we can put it like this: our Fellows were gaining useful information from Professor Donovan's workshop and at the same time witnessing the practice and performance of expertise.  Sure, anybody in the room could have checked out info on the topic via wikipedia, or WebMD maybe? But there was something special about conversing live and in person with someone who's clearly completed her proverbial 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

There were multiple moments during her discussion that Professor Donovan talked through the specific ways the body and especially our brains respond to real and perceived incidents of stress. Her use of specialized terminology; her vivid description of our brains on stress; and her blends of anecdotal and scientific evidence allowed us to be students, dutifully taking notes, but we were also witnesses, aware that we were observing something that was, at least for this space, unusual.

Folks had various positive things to say at the close of the workshop, but long story short, they were basically saying this: Roxanne Donovan...the Truth.  

AALCI 2013


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