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Swag Bender Episode 045"From College Football to Assistant Vice President” with special guest Dr. Vaughn A. Calhoun

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Dr. Vaughn A. Calhoun serves as the Assistant Vice President and Dean of the Center for Academic Success at Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ). He also teaches for Providence College and the University of Maryland Global Campus. He has been featured on a number of national platforms including, Fortune Magazine - Education Edition, Huffington Post, NASPA Policy Briefs, and Student Affairs Now Podcast.


He received his bachelor's degree from Rutgers University, a Master's from California State University Longbeach, and his Ph.D. from Northeastern University.

Swag Bender Episode 045"From College Football to Assistant Vice President” with special guest Dr. Vaughn A. CalhounSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 044 "Investigating, Mentoring, and Giving Back to the community” with guest Tastery Reed, Jr.

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Tastery Reed, Jr is an investigator that has a tremendous amount of experience in working cases. His recent investigations include police misconduct with the goal of bettering the police department and building a better connection within the community. Previously to that, he investigated public assistance fraud ensuring the integrity of the state’s welfare system in addition to working with rehabilitating federal inmates that have come out of corrections to become productive citizens. He is also a  Boston, Massachusetts native Hope, and an alum of Bunker Hill Community College (AA in Criminal Justice), University of New Haven (BS in Criminal Justice), and UMass Lowell (MA in Homeland Defense).



Swag Bender Episode 044 "Investigating, Mentoring, and Giving Back to the community" with guest Tastery Reed, Jr.Swag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 043 "From Dancer to Nurse Education and more" with guest Dr. Diane Reed

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Dr. Diane Reed is a  Professor of Nursing at Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, an author of 2 books, and the host of the radio show Nurses Rock!  She holds a Ph.D. from Capella University, a Master’s in Nursing from the University of Colorado-Denver, an MBA from Everest University-South Orlando, and a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Grand Valley State.


To learn more about Dr. Reed, visit, or email her at

Swag Bender Episode 043 "From Dancer to Nurse Education and more" with guest Dr. Diane ReedSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 042 “When Humor, Life Coaching, & Psychology Meet” w/guest Dr. Daryl Appleton"


Dr. Daryl Appleton is aggressively reshaping corporate, academic, and individual visions of wellness.

Her consulting firm holds an exclusive clientele of global brands, top surgical residency programs, Fortune 500 executives, thought leaders & specialists, and professional athletes from across the globe looking to elevate their plans for success and fight burnout/mental fatigue.

Specializing in the success and well-being of those in high net-worth and high-burnout positions. Dr. Appleton challenges leaders, audiences, and organizations to redefine their values and views of success. In her unique approach, her firm utilizes neuropsychological techniques, communication strategies, and reprioritization of work-life S.W.A.Y. to help all clients meet goals and amend unproductive behaviors.

Dr. Daryl Appleton holds an Ed.D. in Leadership from Johnson and Wales University, an M.Ed. in Counseling from Providence College, a C.A.G.S. in Mental Health from Salve Regina University, a Bachelor from Stonehill College, and an LMHC in the state of Rhode Island.

Instagram: @drdarylappleton 


Twitter: @drdarylappleton

Swag Bender Episode 042 “When Humor, Life Coaching, & Psychology Meet” w/guest Dr. Daryl Appleton"Swag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 041 “Empowerment Via Education” w/guest Miriam “MiMi” King


Miriam King is a CEO, a consultant, and a professional development coach.  In 2020 King founded the E.V.E Consulting Firm. E.V.E (Empowerment Via Education) empowers WHO you are for WHAT you do. They believe in Eq over IQ, and provide creative solutions and strategies to navigate you toward discovering your best self! She is also a fellow graduate of the University of Central Florida.

Swag Bender Episode 041 “Empowerment Via Education” w/guest Miriam “MiMi” KingSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 040 “From College Basketball to PhD” w/guest José González

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José González is a first-generation Afro-Caribbean immigrant who grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts. His educational journey has been nontraditional. After graduating from his community college, he transferred to Westfield State University and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a double concentration in Ethnic Studies and Philosophy. In 2020, he earned his Master of Arts degree in African American Studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Currently, José is a first-generation doctoral student in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass-Amherst. Apart from his intellectual endeavors, José is an artist who uses Hip Hop as a medium to help build community, facilitate healing, create social change, and raise consciousness and awareness around social issues. His stage name is Dr. Zae and you can find his music on all platforms.

“From College Basketball to PhD” w/guest José GonzálezSwag Bender
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Swag Bender Episode 039 “A conversation about Equity and Education” w/guest Carlon Howard

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Carlon Howard is the Chief Impact Officer and Co-Founder of Equity Institute. In his role, he oversees organizational strategy, internal operations, and implementation of Equity Institute’s premier educator pathway program, the EduLead Fellowship. Carlon is an avid reader and lifelong learner who spends much of his time exploring topics related to social science, history, and leadership. He received his Bachelor's from the University of Georgia and his Master's in Education at Rhode Island College.

“A conversation about Equity and Education” w/guest Carlon HowardSwag Bender
00:00 / 31:40

Swag Bender Episode 038 "The Done Dissertation Coach" with guest Dr. Ramon Goings


Dr. Ramon Goings is the founder of the Done Dissertation Coaching Program. He currently serves as Assistant Professor in the Language, Literacy, and Culture interdisciplinary doctoral program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Goings is an expert on gifted/high-achieving Black male student success in PK-20 settings and diversifying the teacher and school leader workforce.

Dr. Goings is the author of over 50 scholarly publications. In addition to his scholarship, Dr. Goings has expertise in cultivating the academic writing of doctoral students and early career researchers. For more information about Dr. Goings’ research, you can visit his personal website

"The Done Dissertation Coach" with guest Dr. Ramon GoingsSwag Bender
00:00 / 34:00

Swag Bender Episode 037 “It’s Not About You So please Understand” with guest Holly Noon


Holly Noon is an Entrepreneur, Mother, HR Consultant,  Positive Influencer, Anti-Racism, Advocate, University of Central Florida Alum where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice. She also received a Master’s Degree from the University of Florida. She owns HR Connection LLC, which provides services for organizations such as HR consulting, training courses & workshops, business development, career coaching, and diversity and inclusion initiatives. Holly Noon is the host of a weekly show on YouTube called "So Please Understand" where guests come on to educate on cultural, social, and racial issues with the intent to pass this information to the next generation. In her spare time, she gets involved in the community by volunteering and bringing awareness to issues that impact underserved and underrepresented communities. She is the author of the book It's Not About You So Please Understand: The Social Textbook To Understanding Concepts Related To Racism And People Of Color.

“It’s Not About You So please Understand” with guest Holly NoonSwag Bender
00:00 / 29:24

Swag Bender Episode 36 “From Academic Probation to PhD” w/guest Dr. Shanna Howell


Dr. Shanna L. Howell was named the Dean of the Bristol Community College New Bedford Campus in August 2019 after working as Director of Student Success at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. Shanna earned her Bachelor of Science in sociology at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, Ga.; her Master of Science in adult learning and organizational performance from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa and her Doctor of Philosophy in educational leadership and policy studies, from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She has held several positions, including, but not limited to the Director of Student Success. During this time, Shanna provided leadership for the implementation of strategies to address degree completion challenges, directed the institution’s tutoring center, the ALT Center, and developed activities related to increasing student success. She was also responsible for creating a comprehensive academic probation program and increasing the usage of the university’s tutoring center, by more than 15 percent.

Shanna has served as a volunteer for the United Way of Central Iowa’s annual Graduation Walk. She has also supported the annual Back 2 School Bash at the John R. Grubb YMCA, in Des Moines, Iowa, that serves and supports underrepresented students, from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. 

Shanna is a Vice-Chair of the United Way of Greater New Bedford Board, a board member for the Our Sister School located in New Bedford, a member of the Board of Trustees for the Turner Free Library as well a member of the Diversity and Race Equity Council (DARE) for the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton.

“From Academic Probation to PhD” w/guest Dr. Shanna HowellSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 035 “Dance and Poetry” with guest Tracie Roberts


Tracie Roberts is the author of the new book Project Life. She is a Dance Teacher at the Chris Gatlin Center in Irvington, New Jersey. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Dance Studies from Dean College in 2019 where she was a member of MyBlackSpeaks.

Amazon: Project Life 

IG: @tracieroberts_dance
IG: @_bellotraciee

“Dance and Poetry” with guest Tracie RobertsSwag Bender
00:00 / 18:16

Swag Bender Episode 034 “A conversation about Anthropology and Activism with an Asian and African American perspective” with Dr. Linda Ziegenbein


Dr. Linda Ziegenbein is an experienced higher education professional dedicated to making our institutions deserving of our students. She is skilled in project development and implementation, budget management, teaching, and public speaking. An anthropologist working in STEM, she brings a social science perspective to re-thinking STEM education. She is currently the Interim Director for the Office of Student Success & Diversity in the College of Natural Sciences at UMass Amherst.


Twitter: @LindaZiegenbein

IG: @lindamz


“A conversation about Anthropology and Activism with an Asian and African American perspective” with Dr. Linda ZiegenbeinSwag Bender
00:00 / 50:41

Swag Bender Episode 033 “Black College Males & Suicide Ideation” w/guest Dr. Malissa Sanon (Part 2)


Dr. Malissa Sanon has successfully defended her dissertation from Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in the Educational Leadership and Research Methodology program. Her concentration is in higher education. Sanon has presented at American Education Research Association (AERA) in 2016, University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) in 2017, Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) in 2018, Student Leadership Summit in 2020, and Florida Educational Research Association (FERA) in 2020. Currently, Sanon’s dissertation, If You Can’t Make a Sound, Make a Peep: A Narrative Inquiry of the Lived Collegiate Experiences of Black Male Students Who Dealt With Suicide Ideation, focuses on Black men and their mental health, how they choose to get help, and what resources and support they deemed most helpful when they do seek help.

As a Haitian first-generation college student, Sanon has first-hand experience of hardships. She understands the importance of addressing mental health issues and would like to continue to promote mental well being. Her interest in mental health is inspired by her lived experience, her family, and her community.  Her aim is to encourage and empower others facing hardships through her research, writing, and presentations. Sanon earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her first master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Florida Gulf Coast University, and a second master’s degree and Ph.D in Educational Leadership at Florida Atlantic University. It is important that Sanon tells her story of challenges so that others may be encouraged and continue their pursuit of higher education. Sanon is the Assistant Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the Paul O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, Bloomington.

(Part 2) “Black College Males & Suicide Ideation” w/guest Dr. Malissa Sanon Swag Bender
00:00 / 34:16

Swag Bender Episode 032 “When Education, Access, Social Justice, and Community Impact meet” w/guest Nick Figueroa


Nick Figueroa is currently the Chief of Family and Community Engagement for the Providence Public School District. Before transitioning to the District, Nick served as the Executive Director of College Visions, college access, and college success nonprofit, and also serves as an adjunct professor at Roger Williams University teaching Human Rights and Community Development.
A social justice advocate, Nick has served as a member of the political action committee for the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and also served as an officer with the NAACP in Rhode Island. Recognized for his advocacy, Nick served a term as a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, State Advisory Council after being nominated by U.S. Senator Jack Reed. Locally, he has served as a board member at Times Squared Academy, a charter school dedicated to teaching STEM-related programs, and the Paul Cuffee Charter School. He is also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Nick Figueroa was awarded by the Women’s Resource Center in Newport, Rhode Island with the prestigious "Men Who Make A Difference Award" in 2017. Additionally, he is a co-founding member of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and the Rhode Island chapter of the New Leaders Council.

Nick holds a Master of Arts in Education from the University of Rhode Island. He completed his undergraduate work in Public Administration at Roger Williams University.

“When Education, Access, Social Justice, and Community Impact meet” w/guest Nick FigueroaSwag Bender
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Swag Bender Episode 031 “Leading Sports while Helping Men Discover & Walk in Purpose” with guest Tony Price


Tony Price is the Athletic Director at Randolph High School in Randolph, Massassachussets. In addition, he is a commissioned Missionary of the historic Twelfth Baptist Church of Boston and serves on the Board of Trustees. He has answered the call TO GO and encourage others through Biblically-based workshops, seminars, and lectures with practical applications. 


A passionate coach and former athlete, Tony has made the qualities and life lessons from his coaching and leadership experience the foundation of his work with men and those who care for them. Tony conducts sessions attended by men and women and has a shared platform with some of the most renowned preachers and teachers of today. 


Tony is a native of Wilmington, Delaware was raised in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a graduate of the Boston Public Schools. Tony earned a Bachelor’s degree from Worcester State University and a Master’s Degree in Sports Leadership from Northeastern University. Always in pursuit of excellence, Tony also attended Spirit of Faith Bible Institute and is currently studying at Harvard University via the EDX Program.


Tony lives by the Biblical verse “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

“Leading Sports while Helping Men Discover & Walk in Purpose” with guest Tony PriceSwag Bender
00:00 / 30:15

Swag Bender Episode 030 "An Intellectual Conversation About Hip-Hop" with guest Austin Ashe (Part 3)


He is the Associate Director, MIT Sloan Undergraduate Education & PhD candidate at UMass Boston. His research examines using Hip-Hop to inform pedagogy:

(Part 3) "An Intellectual Conversation About Hip-Hop" with guest Austin Ashe Swag Bender
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Swag Bender Episode 029 "Jim Crow Sociology: The Black and Southern Roots of American Sociology" with guest Dr. Earl Wright II


Earl Wright II is a Professor of Sociology at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. Born and raised in Memphis, he graduated with a diploma from Trezevant High School in 1989 and later that year entered Kentucky State University (K-State) on a football scholarship. After a successful two year stint as the team’s starting wide receiver, he was ‘compelled’ to leave Frankfort because of the low-grade point average (0.7) he earned while pursuing a major in “football” and minor in “partying.” It is provident that he left K-State since it is likely that he would not have graduated had he remained. Upon his return to Memphis, he began to take college seriously and eventually earned the BA (1994) in History and MA (1997) in Sociology from the University of Memphis. In 2000 Earl took the doctorate in Sociology at the University of Nebraska, where he founded a chapter of the Black Graduate Student Association. Later that year he joined the Department of Sociology at the University of Central Florida and over his career has been on faculty at Fisk University, Texas Southern University (as chairperson of the Department of Sociology) at the University of Cincinnati and, now, at Rhodes College.


Dr. Wright has authored numerous books and articles on the contributions of Blacks and HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) to the discipline of sociology. He is is the nation’s leading authority on W. E. B. Du Bois and the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory – the moniker bestowed on scholars engaged in sociological inquiry at Atlanta University (now called Clark Atlanta University) between 1895 and 1917. His groundbreaking research has altered our understanding of the discipline’s formative years in this nation. Specifically, some of his groundbreaking research findings include the Atlanta Sociological Laboratory’s (1895-1924) status as the first American school of sociology, not the University of Chicago (1915-1930), and that this school was the first American sociological unit to 1) institutionalize the use of insider researchers; 2) institutionalize the public acknowledgment of the limitations of one’s research; 3) institutionalize method triangulation (or mixed methods); and 4) institutionalize a “methods” section in its research papers. It is because of his excellence in “research on race and the South” that he was awarded the Charles S. Johnson Award by the Southern Sociological Society in 2016.

Dr. Wright’s greatest academic pleasure is bringing to this nation’s attention the contributions of early and unknown/little known Black sociologists and social scientists who contributed to the development of one of the greatest tools for social advancement in the world – sociology!

"Jim Crow Sociology: The Black and Southern Roots of American Sociology" with guest Dr. Earl Wright IISwag Bender
00:00 / 42:24

Swag Bender Episode 028 “Sweet Suga Baby” feat. Shavonne Jones


Sweet Suga Baby body products were created by Shavonne Jones. As a mental health therapist, she understands the importance of self-care. As a widow and mother of two small children, she understands how difficult it is to squeeze in self-care. She created Sweet Suga Baby for people like her, who want to indulge in self-care but don't have much time. Sweet Suga Baby was created to be ultra-moisturizing and it makes her feel like royalty. Shavonne attended Barry University in Miami, Florida, where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work. Shavonne is also a licensed social worker in Florida.

IG: @sweetsugababy

Twitter: @1sweetsugababy 


Order Products at: 

“Sweet Suga Baby” feat. Shavonne JonesSwag Bender
00:00 / 29:33

Swag Bender Episode 027 "A Talk about Immigration Laws & Business” with guest Michelle Shepard


Michelle Shepard manages the H-1B Department at Ramineni & Shepard Law Associates. Ms. Shepard’s areas of practice include temporary employment-based visas, including H-1B, TN, E-3, and other employment-based categories.

Ms. Shepard joined the firm as a Law Clerk in the Civil Litigation Department in 2010 while attending New England Law | Boston. While attending New England Law | Boston, Ms. Shepard wrote for and was published in the New England Journal of International and Comparative Law. Ms. Shepard attended Johnson and Wales University and obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 2009. She is admitted to practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

"A Talk about Immigration Laws & Business” with guest Michelle ShepardSwag Bender
00:00 / 19:22

Swag Bender Episode 025 "PeeWee I'm Not Lying" with guest Anthony Norton


Anthony Norton is a former college football player from Belle Glade, Florida turned book author.  His new book "PeeWee, I Swear I’m not Lying: Experience Changes Lives…Or So I Think!" is available online and in bookstores.  

(From Amazon) This book offers a glimpse into the significance of human perspective. Among the many lessons it holds is one that highlights the role of experiences, and the path one selects for himself. Furthermore, it teaches one that he must correct his perspective in order to move in the right direction.Secondly, this book lays emphasis on the teachings of the church and reflects how God guides us towards the right path. Last, but not the least, the book touches upon the importance of good company. Good companions guide you towards the light, while bad companions push you far into the depths of darkness. Your life is a sum of your experiences, and your experiences are brought by the company you keep. So, make sure it is worth keeping.

"PeeWee I'm Not Lying" with guest Anthony NortonSwag Bender
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Swag Bender Episode 024 "5,000 Smiles to Happiness" with guest Gail M. Carter


Gail M. Carter, is Founder and CEO of LightShift360 LLC, Global Business Impact Strategist. She is an author, speaker, entrepreneur, avid traveler, and global volunteer

At LightShift360, LLC, Gail creates strategies and programs for individuals and businesses that empower them to become great leaders, make a difference in society and ensure maximum productivity and fulfillment in life and work through increased focus and engagement.

She enjoys living her purpose, speaking, coaching and consulting empowering people and clients to unleash their strengths, their unique value, and leadership potential using her LightShift Impact360 Leadership 5 Step Strategic S.E.R.V.E. Blueprint.  Gail has traveled to over 16 countries and four continents, and actively participates on annual international mission and volunteer trips. She held various mid-level management positions in civil engineering, construction, utility project management, as well as business planning and operations in the oil & gas industry during her 16-year career working at Fortune 500 companies and Devex Top 40 global charities before launching her consulting company LightShift360. 

She holds an M.B.A in Business Administration from the University of Central Florida, M.A. in Sustainable International Development from Heller School of Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL. She was the recipient of the prestigious Junior League’s “Woman to Watch” Award for her leadership and volunteerism. At her “Renewal360 Encounter” and “How to Unlock Your Potential in 10 Minutes A Day” events, her emphasis on empowering attendees to renew their purpose, revive their joy, be more productive, engaged and fulfilled in life and their careers by unleashing their leadership potential. Using 5 key strategies, sharing powerful stories and creating real and powerful connections with people transforms heartfelt experiences into actionable goals and clarity on next steps and increased confidence to take purposeful action leading to results.

"5,000 Smiles to Happiness" with guest Gail M. CarterSwag Bender
00:00 / 36:20

Swag Bender Episode 023 “Una Great Movie” with guest Jennifer Sharp


Jennifer Sharp is an award winning director, editor, writer and graduate of NYU, Tisch School of the Arts. In 2015, while traveling alone in Honduras, she was inspired to document the story of locals she encountered. With only her cell phone and her artistic vision, she shot the short documentary, “Solitary Worlds,” which won the grand jury prize at the 2016 Rincon International film festival.


She is a believer that Art has the power to change the world, and that artists have a responsibility to facilitate that change through sharing their truths. Her film, Waiting, reflects on how we spend our lives waiting passively for dreams to come true. Boxed speaks of the baggage that we choose to carry around. Time Travelers, is a reflection of the absurdity of humans’ obsession with time. In A Great Movie, Jennifer uses humor to address racism, tourism, and how making art a business can destroy art.

An all around filmmaker, she has numerous other credits such as writer, director, editor, producer, and art director. She volunteers making movies with teenagers affected by HIV and AIDS, and is the volunteer editing coordinator for Make a Film Foundation, an organization that makes films with children who have chronic or terminal illnesses.

“Una Great Movie” with guest Jennifer SharpSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 021 “The Entrepreneur Game” with guest Elliott Eddie

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Elliott Eddie is Chairman/CEO of DM Media, Inc., author of five published books, worldwide distributed independent filmmaker of six films, four‐time Virginia Public Speaking Champion, two‐time Internationally Awarded Public Speaker and Toastmaster International’s 2016 World Championship of Public Speaking Finalist. As an entrepreneur, Elliott has built a corporation, which boasts six small businesses; all of which operate in the black. These businesses include; Superior Tax Preparation, P&E Reality (Investment & Development), DM Media Film & Television Productions (8 Independent Films with Worldwide Distribution), P&E Publishing (5 published books), Risqué Creations (women’s Designer Jewelry) and EESpeaks (International Speaking Company). Currently, DM Media Inc. had just introduced a new tabletop board game of which Elliott Eddie is the inventor titled, “The Entrepreneur Game by EESpeaks”. To date the game has been purchased in nine different countries around the world. 
As an International Speaker, Elliott has touched the hearts of audiences around the world. A recent recipient of the Outstanding Keynote Speaker Award from Richmond’s own Urban Financial Services Coalition, Elliott’s favorite topics to share on are: Entrepreneurship, Public Speaking and Dream Building.

Elliott has been active with the Richmond Public Library, providing Entrepreneur Workshops to Richmond City Youth throughout the summer by partnering with the Black Male Emergent Readers program of the Main Branch of the Richmond Public Library and providing Entrepreneurial Books and Training for adults throughout Richmond, Virginia.

“The Entrepreneur Game” with guest Elliott EddieSwag Bender
00:00 / 37:19

Swag Bender Episode 020 “Social Class in Higher Education” with guest Dr. Sonja Ardoin


Sonja Ardoin, Ph.D. is an author, learner, educator, and facilitator. She originates from "Cajun country" - the small, rural community of Vidrine, LA specifically - and is proud of her first generation college student to Ph.D. educational journey, with degrees from Louisiana State University, Florida State University, and North Carolina State University. Sonja's career path includes experience in student activities, leadership development, community engagement, fraternity and sorority life, student conduct, and academic advising.  She made the move from full-time practitioner to full-time faculty member in 2015, but continues to view her professional role as that of a scholar-practitioner. Sonja studies social class identity in higher education; college access and success for first generation college students and students from rural areas; student and women’s leadership; and career preparation and pathways in higher education and student affairs. Sonja stays engaged in the higher education field through presenting, facilitating, and volunteering with national organizations such as ASHE, NASPA, ACPA, LeaderShape, AFLV, Zeta Tau Alpha, Delta Gamma, and Peer Forward.  She is a contributor to the NASPA Center for First-generation Student Success advocacy group, the NASPA Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education Knowledge Community, and the AFLV Board of Directors. She also serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice and the College Student Affairs Journal and as a reviewer for the Journal of College Student Development.
Sonja contributes to literature through books, book chapters, journal articles, and blogs and enjoys reading the work of others.  She credits her love of reading to her grandmother, who always brought her to the local library as a child and challenged her to read the maximum number of books each week.


Sonja also enjoys enjoys traveling, dancing and listening to music, reading, writing, sports, laughing, and spending time with people she loves. Her new book, Straddling Class in the Academy: 26 Stories of Students, Administrators, and Faculty From Poor and Working-Class Backgrounds and Their Compelling Lessons for Higher Education Policy and Practice is currently available everywhere. 

“Social Class in Higher Education” with guest Dr. Sonja ArdoinSwag Bender
00:00 / 49:01

Swag Bender Episode 018 “Transforming and Liberating Youth with Education” with guest Mwalimu Donkor Issa


Mwalimu Donkor Issa was born in Los Angeles, California, raised in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and has lived in Roxbury since 1989. He is the Coordinator for Targeted Programs for the Office of Opportunity Gaps and works with the 10 Boys 10 Girls initiative. He received his Bachelor's in English and Africana Studies from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester; he holds a Master's from Boston College in English Curriculum and Instruction along with a Master's degree in Special Education as well.

Donkor believes education is a transformative process that should liberate young people. He says, “education should be a reciprocal process where the educator and the scholar both transform throughout the process. The movie Waiting for Superman was not supposed to leave us feeling sad, rather it was a calling. Everyday I hope that I can continue to be the bridge between where students are and where they want to be.”


Donkor has been in Boston Public Schools for 9 years. His first assignment was as a Cluster Substitute at the Timilty Middle School, where he once was a student. He currently teaches 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts, and Robotics.

“Transforming and Liberating Youth with Education” with guest Mwalimu Donkor IssaSwag Bender
00:00 / 35:47

Swag Bender Episode 017 “Education, Interventions, and Investing in your Community” with guests Dr. Eric & Mrs. Kristen Reed


Dr. Eric Reed specializes in college and career readiness for youth from urban areas. He finds passion in developing educational and economic platforms to help people from underserved communities thrive in today’s society. He most recently completely a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Dr. Reed is currently the Director of TRIO Student Support Services at EMU. 
Mrs. Kristen Reed was born and raised on the west side of Detroit, the oldest of 10 children. After graduating from Cass Tech High School, Mrs. Reed attended Eastern Michigan University and earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Social Work (MSW). After completing her MSW, Mrs. Reed began working as a school Social Worker at University Prep Middle School in Detroit, MI and she now serves in a similar role as an Intervention Specialist at Forsythe Middle School in Ann Arbor, MI. They both currently own several properties under their real estate business.


Eric Reed Instagram: @phd.ereed

Kristen Reed Instagram: @msglamdollhot

“Education, Interventions, and Investing in your Community” with guests Dr. Eric & Mrs. Kristen ReedSwag Bender
00:00 / 33:32

Swag Bender Episode 015 "Black College Males & Suicide Ideation" with guest Malissa Sanon


Malissa Sanon is a doctoral candidate at