Dr. Tru Leverette is an associate professor of English and director of Africana Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences. She teaches various African-American and American literature courses, an interdisciplinary course on the African Diaspora, and general education writing classes. As part of her research interests, Leverette recently finished editing a collection on the art and aesthetics of the Black Arts Movement, which will be published next year. As a certified yoga teacher, she also has been interested in the ways mindfulness and holistic awareness of students can help teachers facilitate uncomfortable conversations in the classroom. Leverette is currently writing a book that explores the role and possibilities of mindfulness in classrooms that focus on race and social justice issues, which is slated to be published next year.
Get to Know Dr. Tru Leverette
Tell us about your role as the new director of Africana Studies.
Africana Studies is a new interdisciplinary major that is being created in the College of Arts and Sciences. I am working with a steering committee of faculty who teach in areas relevant to the emergent major to determine the new program of study. I will be responsible for completing the APC paperwork for this new major, helping to guide its programming, and working with departments on additional faculty hires who will contribute to the curriculum.
What’s one thing in your field of study that people might not know?
The study of literature is a strong basis for many career paths. This discipline really develops critical thinking and close reading skills, as well as the skill of empathy, all of which are applicable to and even essential for much of life.
What’s the most rewarding academic experience you’ve had at UNF in or out of the classroom?
The community-based learning experiences students and I have participated in have been incredibly rewarding. Students and I have worked on the Sankofa Narrative Project with CUEP director Dr. Chris Janson; worked with local elementary school students; created a podcast; and visited local sites of historical importance. Currently, I’m finding that helping run The Justice Sessions and the Baobab Black Arts series is vitally rewarding. All of these experiences have enhanced broad-based learning and community connections.
What do you like most about UNF?
By far, my colleagues and students are my favorite part of UNF. Both groups contain outstandingly smart and engaged people from whom I learn a great deal.
What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate?
Stay true to your purpose, which is often discovered through your passions. Finding and fulfilling that purpose isn’t incompatible with financial success, but shouldn’t be sacrificed for it either.