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Professor discusses her love of reading and new book project

Dr. Tru Leverette Hall, UNF English professor and director of the Africana Studies programUNF English professor and director of Africana Studies, Dr. Tru Leverette Hall, combines her love of reading and writing with her interests in mixed race studies to provide meaningful learning experiences to her students. Throughout her nearly 20-year tenure at UNF, she has won multiple awards. She is also an accomplished author currently working on a new book project. Outside of the classroom, the Michigan native enjoys gardening and hiking, among other recreational activities.
What were your career aspirations growing up?
When I was really young, I wanted to be a jockey since I love horses and riding, but I grew too tall. Then, I wanted to be a farmer.
Why did you decide to pursue an English degree and focus your research in African American and mixed race literature?
I always loved reading and writing and had a personal interest in race and discourses of mixture. Also, realizing I was taught by only one Black female professor throughout my entire education (graduate school included), I wanted to help fill that representational void.
What brought you to UNF?
I had taken some graduate classes here before transferring to the University of Florida. I loved the campus at UNF and the people I met here and had kept in touch with one of my professors, who was then chairing the English Department. He told me there was a position opening for a specialist in African American literature and the timing was perfect for me to apply.
What are your current research interests/previous interests?
I'm currently working on a book project on African American environmental history. It's informed by a larger community-engaged, collaborative project with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and St. Johns Riverkeeper that is meant to document, preserve, and augment economic, residential, environmental and communal​ assets of residents in the Ribault River corridor/Moncrief Cemetery district of Jacksonville.
What do you like best about teaching at UNF?
Students and colleagues here, including staff, are the best part of UNF. I find the people as well as the natural beauty of the campus to be my favorite things about UNF.
What book(s) are you currently reading or recently read?
I'm re-reading books that I'm currently teaching: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston, High on the Hog by Jessica B. Harris, Soil by Camille Dungy. Not directly related to teaching, I'm reading World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl.
Who/what inspires you?
Nature inspires me. People working for justice inspire me. Students with clear, hopeful visions for a better world and their energy to pursue those visions inspire me.
What is one thing people may not know about you?
I'm trying to learn to play the guitar, which so far has been a real challenge for me.