Class of 2019
She believes in her community and will continue to empower it to the best of her abilities. Hostos Community College provided alumna Tameka Ridley with new ways of understanding herself as a human and professional and the role she can enact to make a difference in her home borough through literacy and publishing.
The following is a summarized interview with Ms. Ridley conducted by Alumni Relations Manager Félix O. Sánchez and Communications Publications Editorial Manager Wilfredo J. Burgos-Matos on July 2023.
“Around the Black Lives Matter protests, I started to think about how to impact my community better as I wanted to stay a part of it. That made me look at Hostos to expand my horizons and start my Business degree. I loved it,” she said. “It was while doing my degree that I published my first piece about business, and that cemented my love of publishing and how it relates to my interests in entrepreneurship,” she added.
While at Hostos, Tameka took advantage of all the opportunities available to her. “I took advantage of many opportunities, starting with the scholarship orientation. I talked to many inspiring people who looked like me and who made me believe I could do it, so I did.”
She credits many professors as central to her success: Huie, Figueroa, and Ridley. Also dear to her time at Hostos is Student Leadership Coordinator Jason Libfeld, who mentored and guided her through participating in the Student Leadership Academy.
Tameka is the Executive Director of I AM LIT, a virtual mentoring organization for aspiring authors of color and underrepresented groups. The mission of this initiative is rooted in supporting literature by and about people of color. I AM LIT connects mentees to authors from Bronx Poetry for one-on-one mentoring services. The organization also provides professional self-publishing packages that include a customized book cover, 2 ISBNs, professional editing services, and book formatting.
“I didn’t want to be someone who just received my education and left my community. I wanted to remain in the Bronx and let others know that they can thrive and tell their own stories,” she noted about the purpose behind creating her organization, which is also involved in community-giving practices that seek to increase literacy in the borough by giving books to the people.
“Sometimes you must prioritize what you spend your money on, especially when you leverage between food and other needs. However, our community needs to read and increase literacy, so we started a program through my organization to have books available for the people. Up to this day, and within a year, we have given over a thousand in the Bronx at block parties and multiple events,” she shared.
According to Tameka, Hostos was central in allowing her to see her potential and what she’s capable of, especially now that she spearheads a project like I AM LIT.
“I was looking at the world short term, and the people at Hostos empowered me. For instance, I’ll never forget when a professor told me at the end of my journey at the College: ‘I’ll see you at your Ph.D. graduation,’ which is something that would have never crossed my mind if I hadn’t had the support and guidance that Hostos gave me. Now I am actively applying to programs and want to see my professor at my doctoral graduation,” she concluded.
After Hostos, Tameka pursued a BA in Business Administration and an MA in Business and Human Resources Management from Lehman College.
We can’t wait to see what else Tameka does!