By: Mario Estiverne
Joining a group and hoping to become part of the team is often a nerve-wracking career step. But for Tamika Guishard, it’s one she’s happy to have taken. Guishard, 39, of Queens, New York, joined the Adelphi Communications Department this fall as an adjunct professor of new media. She brings with her a new teaching style.
“Professor Guishard is just what the Communications Department at Adelphi needed. She brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and energy that is infectious and inspiring,” said Associate Professor John Drew. “Her dynamic background and deep roots working with various youth communities in urban settings on various media and game development projects positions her perfectly to help build out our growing new media concentration.”
Professor Terrence Ross said of the interview process to hire Guishard that “everyone on the panel was so impressed with her talent and her positive energy as well as all the programs and initiatives that she had started or been part of, that we immediately agreed that we had to find a way to get her into the department.”
Guishard said, “A lot of new media is like being your own expert and kind of carving a space. The main skills that my students are coming away with is a stronger sense of self and empowerment. This will help them make their own space in the digital world.”
Guishard also works with Hats & Ladders, a gaming app based in New York. Their primary goal is to empower teens and young adults with career-building experiences, skills and opportunities so they can take small steps now that lead to big leaps later. The idea is to empower youth as career thinkers, capable of making their own connections between who they are, who they want to be, and how to get there.
“Being a storyteller, it's always important to me to make sure that we're telling multiple stories and with the racial uprising and activism being on the tip of everyone's tongue,” Guishard said. “I felt that with this career-thinking app, it could be a very great tool to introduce the tenants of activism and social justice to young people.”
Working on Hats & Ladders was a stretch into another kind of storytelling, specifically into a form of new media. Before her involvement with this website, she would also tell stories during her time as a seventh-grade social studies teacher, as a dancer and a park ranger. One might think, what does a park ranger have to do with storytelling? Guishard explained that park rangers can encounter many forms of culture and wildlife and the experiences they share with others can give them a bigger appreciation for nature and humanity.
Guishard graduated from New York University with her master of fine arts in film and TV. She was the only African American woman in her class. While she is also the only African American woman in the Communications Department, Guishard said she doesn’t feel separated from the rest of the staff. But when she was a student at NYU, she oftentimes felt disconnected. Even so, she didn’t stop growing as a storyteller and soon after her graduation Kasi Lemmons became faculty at NYU. Lemmons is an African American film director who directed the films “Harriet” and “Black Nativity.”
“Being able to grow and shape my experiences throughout my career caused me to search and build a community, a community where students can feel welcome and accepted,” Guishard said.
Her goal, not as a professor, but as a human, is to be a reflection for other students of color and mainstream marginalized voices in our chorus of humanity.
“I'm in a space that doesn't have a lot of people looking like me. I like to be a reflection for other students that were like me that were kind of just looking for people that look like me,” said Guishard.
The new media professor wants to help students grow within Adelphi’s community and to help them achieve their goals. “Once I feel like I have settled, I look forward to giving you all more opportunities to connect outside of class,” she said.