Professor Tanya Mears Discusses Identity, Diversity & Service


Worcester State Profesor Tanya Mears has been a dedicated member of the WSU community both inside and outside the classroom. She works closely with students to develop both their academic and their leadership skills. Dr. Mears took some time to sit down with us her involvement here on campus.

Written By Jess Evora || Photo by WSU 

Ethnic Studies Professor Tanya Mears has dedicated nine years of service to Worcester State, both in and outside of the classroom.  However, her dedication to serving her community began long before she arrived here on campus.

Professor Mears attended Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, CT.  Her high school put a strong emphasis on community service.  This is where Professor Mears’s commitment to service was first developed.  While in high school, she dedicated many hours of service to Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford, CT.

Dr. Mears continued her community efforts once she arrived here at Worcester State. Not only does Dr. Mears teach a full-load of classes while pursuing her research interests, but she continues to stay involved as an advisor for the Third World Alliance. She also serves as a mentor for various initiatives within the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

“I don’t think of myself as a leader.  I think of myself as providing a service to the school,” Professor Mears said.  “I believe it’s my job to meet their needs as students.  I try to make sure I have a student-first perspective.”


Dr. Mears also feels it is important to take the time to engage in diversity-related discussion with students.  This is one of the reasons she truly enjoys working within the field of Ethnic Studies.

In 2017, Professor Mears was awarded the Worcester State Diversity and Inclusion Award, a  university-wide honor given to one faculty member each year. Many of Professor Mears’s classes focus on various topics related to diversity.  Her class titled “Politics of Black Hair” is just one example.

On a personal level, Professor Mears identifies as a woman of African descent.  “I understand the importance of representation,” She said.  “Seeing people of color in faculty positions is important, and so I do understand the significance of serving as a role model.”


auditorium-benches-board-207691.jpgProfessor Mears’s responsibility as a professor is to help students learn, but she also appreciates how much she has learned from the students.

“I’ve learned that students have so many great ideas,” Dr. Mears said.  “Society always wants to brush our students off as millennials who are spoiled and who don’t have much to offer, but that is completely false.”

She has also been impressed with the students that she advises within the Office of Multicultural Affairs.  “When I talk to students about what they are doing outside of the classroom, I’ve come to realize that they have so many additional commitments and responsibilities,” She said.  “It’s really impressive how much they are handling at one time.”

Professor Mears is juggling quite a few commitments as well.  Before parting ways, I asked Professor Mears to share me a few life lessons that she’s learned through her work on campus.  She shared three sentiments that she carries with her everyday as she works with the community here at Worcester State.

  1. “Be true to your interests and to the people to which you are trying to be of service.”
  2. “Encourage people rather than put them down.”
  3. “When working in a team, always remember that everyone can contribute.”

Thank you Professor Mears for sharing your love for service and your passion for supporting the students here at Worcester State.  We are proud that you are member of the Worcester State Community.

Best of luck with the rest of the semester.


The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development