Harper College

Ten Questions with Dr. Shanté Holley

Ten questions with Dr. Shanté Holley

Dr. Shanté Holley, professor of English at Harper College, has a lot to be proud of. She earned her doctoral degree in Curriculum and Social Inquiry at National Louis University; pitched the idea of the Academy for Teaching Excellence alongside her partner Stephanie Whalen and within three years it was fully funded and institutionalized; and is a frequent speaker at colleges and universities across the country on the topics of resilience, empathy and diversity, equity and inclusion. But when we asked what she’s most proud of, the answer was easy: becoming the first Black woman in the history of William Rainey Harper College to earn the rank of full professor. Here are 10 questions with Dr. Shanté Holley.

1. Describe your perfect day.

Pretending for a moment that COVID is not at issue, a perfect day for me begins abroad somewhere like Belfast or London. If it’s local, then one of my favorite Chicago neighborhoods like Logan Square or Hyde Park will do nicely. I start with morning meditation, and after an outdoor jog, I treat myself to carbs at a local coffee shop, preferably owned by a small business owner. Right now, I'm currently obsessed with Beacon Doughnuts. They're vegan, and some of the best doughnuts I've ever had in my life! A block of time to read, write, reflect and create is ideal. And the day ends with an outdoor concert; food and drink under a canopy of stars.  

2. What's a color that you gravitate towards? 

YELLOW! I’m like plants; I need sun, brightness, citrus and zest.

3. Of which personal achievement are you most proud? 

I am the first African American woman to earn the rank of Full Professor at Harper College. I'm also proud that my mentee, Dr. Stephanie Horton, just became the second.

4. What do you wonder about? 

I often wonder how people who profit from division and misinformation sleep at night.

5. Early bird or night owl? 

Neither. My circadian rhythms rise and fall with the sun. I can build monuments between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. After that, my mind is exhausted. The exception is summer. In summer, my mind can go to 5:00 p.m.

6. You could be best friends with any fictional character, who do you choose and why? 

Sherlock Holmes. I’ve read the entire canon at least three times. Sherlock is a brilliant thinker. His powers of deduction, observation, his misanthropic tendencies, his flair for the dramatic, his arrogance, addictions and brotherly affection for Watson make him a fascinating character. When Conan Doyle tried to kill him off, fans practically rioted.  

7. If you could go back and tell 13-year-old Shanté one thing, what would you tell her? 

Silence the noise. Trust your gut. Follow your north star.  

8. Best vacation you ever took? 

Australia! I am dying to go back. The food and wine scene in Melbourne is phenomenal. I’m a foodie.  

9. What are you hopeful for? 

Transformation always gives me hope. It's why I teach. The potential is always there if people are willing to do the work. It's our job to do the work in such a way that it makes others want to join.  

10. What do you love most about Harper College? 

Harper is a champion of innovation There is no shortage of good ideas around this place and I’ve been fortunate to see many implemented during my tenure here. Harper is always asking, what’s next? What’s over the horizon? And what do we need to do to prepare ourselves to meet the moment. We don't always get there. But there's almost always a willingness to try.

Last Updated: 3/14/24