I had the joy of interviewing the wonderful Dr. Patricia Hopkins, an English proffesor, as well as the Director of African American Studies. You may recognize her from your underclassman writing seminars. Moreover, she’s the advisor for the Black Student Union. It is no surprise that she was the 2016 recipient of the Sankofa award, a student nominated honor. A great mentor and friend, her office is constantly filled with not only her past and present students, but also students that she has never even taught. “I’m here because others were here before me, and its very important for me to turn around and reach back,” she remarked in regards to recieving the award.
Doc Hop truly is a witty, sarcastic, wickedly intelligent, and whole heartedly engaging woman.
“I think what’s exciting is to teach African American literature to students who think they’re coming in to learn about these other people, and not Americans and their contributions to this great country. That’s very exciting to me for them to learn about institutional racism and what led up to them not knowing these great americans and their contributions.”
Do you find it difficult to teach a predominantly white institution?
“No, because I came out of one. I came out of Penn and that’s where I first starting teaching. I sort of got my feet wet there. I think what’s hard – its only hard to teach people who are resistent to learning. And to me, you don’t go to college if you don’t want to experience new things. I mean that’s one of the things I love about teaching the Science Fiction [Afro Futurism and Science Fiction] course. It’s set in the future and obstensibly we’ve left all of this other stuff behind. Its not Blacks against Whites; its humans against aliens. And I used to tell my kids all the time, ya know, racism will end when the aliens show up. We all have to stick together to fight the aliens. But I also know that a lot of the unrest people have is that they haven’t taken my course.”
Her advice to students is as follows: “Everyone needs to find a mentor. Obviously, I can’t be everyone’s mentor, but there needs to be someone you can go and talk to about things. Advice. Whatever. They walk that path that you’re attempting to walk. You shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. Someone else had done that. Take that advice. I don’t think I did that as an undergrad. I didn’t know you should do that. Take advantage of office hours. Make those connections! Those kind of connections can springboard you. I came from a school very similar to CNU, and ended up in the ivy leagues. You don’t have to struggle by yourself. I have food! I have juice boxes! College is hard enough. It doesn’t have to be that much harder. Go to programs outside of classes.”
Following a leg amputation, she will be taking things a little slower this semester. Nevertheless, she doesn’t let being differently abled stop her from reaching greatness. In true Dr. Hopkins fashion, she was overly ambitious straight off the operation, ready to get back in the swing of things. I aspire one day to be as resilient and wise as this incredible human being.