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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Dr. Elaine Richardson brings her performance of “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life” to MU

Dr. Elaine Richardson brings her performance of PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life to MU

Dr. Elaine Richardson (Dr. E) will perform her one-woman show based on her book by the same name: “PHD to Ph.D.: How Education Saved My Life,” Thursday, March 3 at 4 p.m. in the AMU Ballrooms.

Following her performance she will host a question-and-answer session and book signing. She is a professor of literacy studies in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State University.

Richardson’s performance comprises music, storytelling and monologues. It covers many important topics, including social and educational crises of urban black women and girls, first-generation college students, sex-trafficking, the lure of the street life, violence, addiction, self-discovery, recovery, self-knowledge and self-love.

Cedric Burrows, an assistant English professor at Marquette and co-coordinator of the event, said that he hopes that Richardson’s show will start a conversation in the community about these issues.

Beth Godbee, also an assistant professor of English at Marquette and co-coordinator of the event, agreed that the Marquette community would benefit from learning about Richardson’s experience.

“Dr. E’s life story is powerful, memorable and truly transformative,” Godbee said in an email.

Godbee and Burrows have both read and taught Richardson’s book in their classes. The two have wanted to bring Richardson to Marquette and Milwaukee to share her story with the local community ever since Burrows met her at a conference.

They worked closely with Richardson and with many co-sponsors across campus and the community to make this event possible, including William Welburn, associate provost for diversity and inclusion, and Shaun Longstreet, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. “We’re excited to see (the story) come to life on stage,” Godbee said.

Richardson said that a friend of hers, Mary Weems, an independent scholar, poet and playwright, helped her turn her book into an engaging performance that would interest audiences. She watched a lot of other women speaking in front of audiences and drew off those for her own performance.

Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Angelou were some of her main influences.

“They really inspired me as far as their creativity as women,” Richardson said.

Richardson said that she wishes she could perform for an audience of thousands of people. “I haven’t had the opportunity, so I don’t know what that feels like,” Richardson said. However, she still appreciates all audiences at any venue. “It’s an honor to have people take time out of their day to come and see what (I’m) doing.”

Richardson is doing a TEDx Talk at Ohio State next weekend. She hopes that when her talk is posted online, it’ll give her the opportunity to reach a larger audience with her powerful message.

Her main goal is to let people know not to give up on others or themselves. Her mother never gave up on her and she had people that cared for her and helped her get her life together.

“If you keep going, you don’t know when the end is going to be, but if you give up, you know when the end is,” Richardson said.

She said that people can connect with her story on all different levels, depending on their own personal experiences. She enjoys keeping in contact with fans that she has helped and seeing their personal growth. Richardson said that inspiring others feels amazing.

“It makes me feel like I know why God let me live, to be able to tell my story, to add some meaning to my life,” Richardson said.


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