Monthly Archives: March 2014

Spring 2014 Visiting Scholars

Zarina BlankerbakerI am pleased to introduce Richland College’s spring 2014 Visiting Scholars. This group of qualified and talented teachers is a strong addition to Richland’s excellent faculty. These new teaching colleagues were selected because of their commitment to student centered-values, learning, and personal growth. Our shared dedication to providing an exceptional educational environment gives us focus as we strive toward Richland College’s vision of becoming the best place we can be to learn, teach, and build sustainable local and world community. I encourage you to take time to read our new visiting scholars’ biographies and get to know them as we embrace them as part of our Richland community. Please join me in welcoming our new spring 2014 Visiting Scholars and wishing them a successful tenure at Richland College.

Warm regards,
Zarina Blankenbaker, Ph.D.
Vice President for Teaching and Learning
Richland College


Sha-shonda Porter
English Visiting Scholar
Sha-shonda has earned a bachelor’s degree in writing and literature, a master’s degree in creative writing, and a doctorate degree in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in humanities and culture. Her research produced an analytical method and tool, Racial Identity Development Criticism (RIDC), which is a practical, interventionist, and pedagogical approach to reading and discussing race. RIDC responds to the need for practical tools in multicultural education and discourse. Sha-shonda is a published author of poems, short stories, and academic articles, and a novel, The Devil Stopped By (2012). She also is a public speaker. Before transitioning into academia, Sha-shonda worked in the healthcare industry for more than 13 years. She previously has taught at the University of Texas at Arlington, Northwood University, Paul Quinn College, Tarrant County College, and Burlington College.

Marisela Contreras Berrios
Biology Visiting Scholar
Marisela has taught “Principles of Nutrition” as an adjunct instructor at Richland College since 2008. She has a medical degree and a specialization in public health (epidemiology) in Venezuela. Marisela earned master’s and doctorate degrees in human environmental sciences from Oklahoma State University (OSU). She has taught biostatistics and epidemiology at the nursing school in Venezuela, and she taught nutrition during her post-graduate work at OSU. Marisela became a Visiting Scholar at Richland College in spring 2014.

Jessica Oxendine
English Visiting Scholar
Jessica joins Richland College after receiving her doctorate degree in English from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 2014. Her primary focus is medieval and renaissance literature. Jessica wrote her dissertation about warrior women in the literature of the early modern period. Before Richland, she taught literature, technical writing, and composition as a teaching fellow at UNT for the past six years and served as the assistant director of the UNT Writing Lab.

Marian Lefeld
Art Visiting Scholar
Marian earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts from Southern Methodist University. Before SMU, she studied at Brookhaven College. She is a practicing artist (painting and printmaking) with multiple exhibitions in places including Caracas, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam and Dallas. Marian previously taught painting at Cedar Valley College and art appreciation at Tarrant County Community College. She is passionate about teaching art and showing students the powerful relationship between art and culture, exposing them to the complicated dialog between the outcome of the artist’s work and the viewer.

Mary Wood
English Visiting Scholar
Mary earned her master’s degree in English from Texas Woman’s University, where she focused on rhetoric and composition. Her bachelor’s degree in writing from the University of Central Arkansas emphasized composition pedagogy, rhetoric, and creative writing. In addition to teaching freshman composition at TWU, Mary has extensive tutoring experience at various college writing centers. Prior to joining Richland College, she worked as the tutor coordinator at El Centro College where she assisted students in lifelong learning strategies as well as writing and reading skills.

Denecia N. Spence
Speech Visiting Scholar
Denecia began teaching at Richland College in 2010 as an adjunct faculty member, teaching speech. Over the last four years, she has gained valuable teaching, mentoring, and advising experience with students at various academic stages. She has a passion for expanding students’ perceptions about what is possible, and facilitates an individualized approach for each student to foster success within and beyond the academy. Denecia earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree in higher education administration, with minors in counseling, and communication studies earned concurrently at Texas A&M University-Commerce and the University of North Texas. Denecia will complete her doctorate in higher education leadership in 2016 from A&M-Commerce.