Shelley, so excited to finally get you profiled in Meet A Deac. It’s been a big summer for you, with an important job change! Let’s start there with your title, and how long you’ve been at Wake. I have been at Wake for 13 years, with most of that spent in the Office of Civic and Community Engagement. As of July 1st, my title is now Director of the Women’s Center, in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.
I know you are what we call a “Double Deac” (i.e., you have more than one degree from Wake Forest. Talk about your educational background. I have a BA in Communication and Film Studies from Wake, having graduated in 2006. I also got an MA in Communication at Wake in 2009. I’m also currently finishing my Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, with a projected graduation date of December 2022.
In laypersons terms, how would you describe your job? I lead the Women’s Center, which advocates for gender equity and supports Wake women (faculty, staff, students, and alumnae).
What would you like people to know about your job and your department? I want students to know that they are welcome in the Women’s Center any time! We are open from 9 am-6 pm every weekday, and in the evening hours students can use the space to study, hold meetings, or just hang out. We want to get to know you and we want to work with you to support Wake women, so come hang out and let’s talk about how we can work together.
Let’s talk about students for a minute. What advice would you offer them if they asked you? Take a deep breath. On a campus with so many wonderful things to do and learn and be a part of, it can be a little overwhelming. Take the time you need to clarify what’s important to you (and not just your friends, or professors, or parents/family members) and then go do that.
What advice would you give to parents and families if they asked? Walk alongside your kid: ask them questions, provide feedback, give advice if they ask for it. But, don’t try to lead them through college. Even if you went to college, it’s not the same as it was. The Wake Forest I work for isn’t even the same place that I went to school. College should be able to be like training wheels for adulting, a place where students can make mistakes and learn from them in a relatively secure environment. Support your kid, but let them navigate this place independently.
What’s your favorite place on campus? It’s a tie between Carswell Hall and the Ring Theatre. I spent most of my time in undergraduate and graduate school in Carswell, and the love, support, and brilliance of the faculty in the Communication Department is a huge part of what made me who I am today. It feels like a warm hug every time I walk in that building.
Even though I wasn’t a theatre major, some of my best memories at Wake Forest have been in the Ring Theatre. In undergrad and grad school, I acted in and directed The Vagina Monologues and the community that I felt in those productions is what I’m hoping to create in the Women’s Center.
Now we’ve come to my favorite part – the bonus questions!
Book(s) you’re reading now, and/or podcasts you are listening to: I just read Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson and it was a delight. The best possible beach read. I’m reading two books right now, Mothers of Massive Resistance, which is about white women and the efforts to preserve segregation in the US, and Noor, a science fiction book by Nnedi Okorafor. The podcast I am listening to the most right now is In It, which is about parenting neurodiverse kids (my son has ADHD and is on the Autism spectrum).
Favorite band/musician: All of it. I really love music and am so excited to see live music again. Right now I’m listening to Erykah Badu. Other favorites include Brandi Carlisle, Fleetwood Mac, The Chicks, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, and Ani DiFranco. This summer, Lizzo and Beyonce both released new albums in my birthday month, and that felt like a very special birthday present.
Favorite movies/TV shows/Netflix, etc.: Almost Famous is one of my favorite movies. I know almost every line. I was a film minor in college, so this is a question that I could take a while to answer beyond that. As far as TV, I love Parks and Rec and lately have watched several great shows: Derry Girls, We Are Lady Parts, and Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Girls.
What brings you joy? Building a sandcastle with my son at the beach; a long walk; when my friends are successful.
Introvert or extrovert? Both? I’m a preacher’s kid, so it’s really easy for me to show up as an extrovert, but when I do assessments, I’m usually 50/50. I throw a lot of my energy into being with people, so I need the balance offered by quiet moments alone to recharge.
Something most people don’t know about you: I sang in the WFU Gospel Choir when I was in Graduate School and I was part of an a cappella group for a time in undergrad: the Sisterhood of Universal Love, or SOUL.
What didn’t I ask that you want to answer? I’ll give you a fun fact instead: before starting my PhD at UNCG, I had never attended a school that was not called Wake Forest. I grew up in the town of Wake Forest, so I attended Wake Forest Elementary, Wake Forest-Rolesville Middle School, Wake Forest-Rolesville High School, then Wake Forest University (twice!).
Many thanks to you, Shelley, for being this week’s Meet A Deac, and for all you do for our campus community.
Reminder: you can read past Meet A Deacs here.
— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)
September 12, 2022