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Featured Alumni

Alexis McGee  “Just follow it. Don’t be afraid.”  Alexis McGee, class of 2014, speaks on support from the program, teaching passions and advice, and her latest projects.  On a bright, Texas summer afternoon in her hometown of San Antonio, I met up with alumna Dr. Alexis McGee for a classic Tex-Mex lunch. She was repping her grey and maroon MARC t-shirt—probably so I could spot her, but I believe she still carries the MARC spirit.   Like most MARCers, Alexis was in the final stages of completing her bachelor’s degree at Texas State when she was introduced to the program. Alexis was in a confusing space because she had to navigate a college major change from Biology to English, cramming as many classes as possible to fulfill degree requirements to graduate in four years. While in Dr. Octavio Pimentel’s Hip Hop Literacy upper-level undergraduate course, Dr. Pimentel introduced Alexis to the MARC program and encouraged her to apply, even though she felt defeated because of the damage her Organic Chemistry class made on her GPA. Her acceptance into the program solidified that this was the path for her.  And the rest is herstory…  As one of first three Black faculty in the School of Journalism, Writing, and Media at the University of British Columbia, Alexis is an Assistant Professor of Research who has taught an array of courses from First-Year English, Technical Writing, Research Methods, and History of Rhetoric to more of her passionate subjects such as African American Rhetorics and Advanced Writing with a focus on writing with voice.
When I asked her what she is passionate about, Alexis responded, without a beat, “I’m really passionate about teaching.” I could feel her excitement and inner nerdiness begin to rise and take shape as she elaborated, “I’m really passionate about teaching Black writers… in terms of literature or in ways other than text… specifically in music.” She also explained that she is passionate about language and how it is telling of our communities.  “We can play with language and make meaning in so many different ways. Being able to communicate to who is important to you in ways that make sense to you and your community is something that I’m passionate about. I always tell my students, ‘There are multiple ways to do this, there’s not just one way.’”    Support and Encouragement. These were the most rewarding qualities she received from her time in the MARC program. A specific shoutout to MARC faculty Dr. Nancy Wilson and Dr. Octavio Pimentel (as well as former MARC faculty Dr. Jaime Mejía) for support in exploring new research pathways, connecting Alexis to resources and people in her specialty, and support for her application for the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Early Career Educators of Color Leadership award she won in 2014. This award and the Cultivating New Voices NCTE award (2020-2022) she recently won, helped propel Alexis in the academic space. But, as Alexis informed me, the Texas State MARC program has a good reputation, it produces good work and good scholars in rhetoric and composition. Simply by graduating from this program, Alexis indicates she was already in a good position for her academic future.    Having reflected on possible improvements for the MARC program, the most helpful, for, but not limited, to First Gen students like herself, would have been help with housing and having a greater variety of classes with diverse topics—like Black rhetorics, because she often had to fight for space, bending the curriculum in a way that reached her interests and emphasis.   The MARC program did give her the chance and opportunity to study whatever she wanted, especially since the study of rhetoric covers a broad range of topics. Additionally, Alexis appreciated the location of the university being so close to her family in San Antonio and the chance to teach, and the freedom to teach what she wanted to teach that has informed her academic teaching positions.
What is Alexis doing now?   Like most of her fellow rhetoricians, Alexis has submitted a proposal for a panel for the infamous Conference on College Composition and Communication convention for the 2023 term. She recently became a co-chair for the NCTE’s Black Caucus. She just presented at the other infamous Rhetoric Society of America conference in Baltimore, MD. She submitted a panel with National Women’s Studies Association. She has submitted her first manuscript that expands on one of her articles that details how Women of Color in the academy use voice and sound as a survival strategy. She serves as a managing editor with constellations: a cultural rhetorics publishing space and on the editorial board with the Music, Sound, and Moving Image journal. Needless to say, she is well-established in the academic space.   As a final note and advice for future educators, the mentorship Alexis received at Texas State helped her develop an identity as a professor who guides her students, especially Students of Color, to follow their passions and guide them toward that pursuit. Alexis indicates it’s important to guide your students to pursue their interests, whether that be through an assignment or in greater ways such as a college major change, likes hers, to help students explore options, find themselves and develop their identities, and to be happy with future endeavors. “Everyone wants to be where the money is,” Alexis explains, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness.