Meet Shawntae Minyard: advocate, change-maker, cycle-breaker, educational leader, and mother.
In Dallas County, Texas, USA, Shawntae works to connect people (usually the parents of her high school students) to GED classes to support their academic growth while also teaching GED classes herself. She creates free Dual Credit opportunities for high school students across 20 low- income high schools to enroll in community college courses. Minyard knows that when a Black or Hispanic student can earn college credit by the time they graduate high school, they will have more opportunities for a successful future. In addition to her work with family and student education, Shawntae is on the DASA Dallas All-Sports Board, a scholarship organization that supports education by raising money for low-income, first generation college students, or any student with significant barriers, across Dallas, TX. Currently, DASA is partnering with Dallas College and the Dallas Mavericks to raise money for purchasing laptops for students to access educational opportunities during mandated distance learning due to COVID safety regulations.
This opportunity will benefit Dallas College’s low-income students. Dallas College currently serves 160,000 students.
In addition to her work in higher education, Shawntae saw a need in her community to create opportunities for dialogue and education to change systems and police relations. Shawntae emailed the mayor of Rowlett (where she lives) in Dallas county, and held steadfast on communicating the need for racial justice and change in their county. As a result of her advocacy conversations with the mayor, Shawntae became an active member of the Diversity and Equity Committee of Rowlett. She is currently using her platform to create opportunities to build communication between the police department and the Black male youth in her neighborhood.
She is working with the city’s chief of police and his relations officer to build intentional time to dialogue and listen to the perspectives of kids between the ages of 10-16. Through this work, she is hoping that she can build understanding and opportunities for the police to learn and engage with young people in believing that their voice matters. Shawntae hosts annual toy drives to donate to children at The Promise House Shelter in Dallas.
All change-makers have paths that guided them towards opportunities to act and challenge ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. Growing up in Texas, Shawntae had the belief that college was reserved for the wealthy and the White. As a young adult and single mother, she was given the opportunity to work as a temp at a community college. The temp work turned into a permanent job, and after two years of working for the community college district, Shawntae met a professor who challenged her thinking. He challenged her to look past any limitations that society had placed on her and to pursue a 2-year degree at her community college. Shawntae was deeply moved; this person did not know her well and was investing time to encourage, teach and empower her to take her dreams seriously. Flash forward to 2020, Shawntae is now in the process of completing her Master’s degree in Higher Education. Shawntae transformed her life lessons into actions and opportunities to support her community. She believes, “When you are
raised to believe you are not worthy, you act like you’re not worthy. I know I’m capable, I’m enough, I’m a human. If someone can believe that in me, that is my duty to pay that forward.”
Write-up by Sarah Sisu