From an early age, Tangela Serls loved being in the classroom.

This passion for learning led Tangela to pursue her Ph.D. in English at the University of South Florida. She earned the degree in December 2017. Over the course of her academic career, Dr. Serls has taught a wide variety of English and Women’s and Gender Studies classes. Her courses have included subjects such as African American Literature, Literature by Women of Color, and Black Feminisms. At the moment Tangela’s goal is to take her academic knowledge and translate it into publications that the wider public can appreciate and enjoy reading.

Girlfriends, Sisterhood, and Black Girl Magic are just some of the many topics that Dr. Serls enjoys researching and writing about. Her dissertation is titled The Spirit of Friendship: Girlfriends in Contemporary African American Literature. The dissertation looks at three contemporary novels and examines the spiritual subjectivities that inspire girlfriends in each work. In the abstract to the dissertation, Tangela writes that her work looks at “the girlfriend bond as a space where the Divine Spirit can flourish and assist girlfriends as they seek to become actualized.”

There are numerous real-world implications that Tangela sees with her research. For example, she has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for more than ten years; her membership in this sisterhood serves as an inspiration for her scholarly inquiry. Moreover, Tangela serves as an advisor for the USF Section of the National Council of Negro Women where she gets the opportunity to mentor and model what she learns from her examination of sisterhood. No matter which field she works in—whether it’s academic or otherwise—she is certain that she will continue to pursue the topics of her research.

One of the challenges of working in academia is balancing research and teaching. When it comes to teaching, Dr. Serls’ favorite aspect is forming relationships with her students. Getting the chance to inspire the next generation of leaders never fails to make her appreciate this aspect of her work.

Dr. Serls credits her faith, her family, and her friends as three of the most important reasons for her success. Each has helped her in some way when she most needed it. They continue to give her the courage to pursue her dreams and use her knowledge to make a positive impact on the world.