#MakeupMonday: Nail Polish as Mindfulness – Guest Post

I’m pleased to share this guest post sent in by Dr. Katy Peplin for #MakeupMonday!  I always welcome guest posts and pitches for posts on any aspect of makeup, skin care, nail polish, etc.  Email me at gettenure@gmail.com.
By Dr. Katy Peplin
Dr. Katy Peplin earned her PhD from the Department of Film, Television and Media at the University of Michigan in 2016. She works as a coach, editor, and writer specializing in graduate student support. You can read more about her at katypeplin.com, or on Twitter at @katypeplincoach.  Product recommendations below!

I have never been a particularly make-up focused person – I’ll wear some mascara if the mood strikes, I had a brief love affair with bright lipstick – but my love of nail polish is legendary. I’ve got an entire Ikea cart in my office filled with bottles (collected over time, and nail polish never spoils, so it’s *an investment*) and people regularly give me nail polish bottles as gifts. But what they don’t know is that nail polish is actually as much a mental health tool as it is personal adornment.

Now, I have strange body chemistry that means that even the most long-wearing nail polish, no matter how professionally applied, will peel off my nails in big sheets soon after I apply it. I’m lucky to get 24 hours out of a manicure before it chips, so I long abandoned having my nails done in a salon. Mere mortals might decide that the universe does not want them to have painted nails, but not me. I paint my nails a few times a week, which lets me change the color often, and experiment with bold finishes (and often glitter) frequently.

Glitter. Always glitter.

During my PhD, I was struggling with some pretty severe anxiety. I would be writing, and a negative thought spiral would begin (insert all the imposter syndrome, self confidence destroying thoughts you can think of here!) and pretty soon, I’d be paralyzed, unable to type but also unwilling to give up on my work. When discussing this with my therapist, they asked me to brainstorm other activities I could do to occupy my hands while my brain got itself back into a state of balance. And thus, my ritual of mindfully painting my nails was born.

I’d paint my nails whenever my brain was spinning too fast and the writing was suffering. I’d paint my nails when an email from a student came through that had me through the roof with anger, giving me a break before I could reply in a more measured way. I would pick a color that made me feel particularly powerful (blood red! Navy with gold flecks! Shiny patent leather black!) while I thought about how I wanted to approach an upcoming committee meeting. I’d take deep breaths while focusing on the curve of my nail bed, the evenness of my application, watching the flow of the polish, and that was usually enough to get me back into a place where I felt just a little bit more control.

When your cat supervises your archival copy receipts and nail painting sessions

I was never the kind of person that took to meditating, so painting my nails became that mindful moment in my day that I needed. Waiting for your nails to dry? Perfect time to reflect on your day so far, and adjust your schedule. Don’t want to smudge your nails? Try reading through your drafts, or free writing, to reacquaint yourself with your own thinking. Having wet nails is the perfect excuse to take a break and bring yourself back into balance, to focus on your body, your mind, your priorities.

Academic culture can make it feel like taking a break, even to stretch your legs or grab a glass of water, steals time away from the work. But taking 20 or 30 minutes to slow down made me a better grad student. It allowed for some clarity in my writing, rather than pushing through the anxiety to write whatever muddled thing was on my mind, just to hit the word count goal. Having wet nails saved me from writing rude responses to emails, something my colleagues and students surely appreciated. Taking little breaks to do something just for me was a tiny act of resistance that said “yes, I know that painting my nails doesn’t get my dissertation done any faster, but it does make me happier and more balanced when I do it, and honestly, that’s more important.”

Maybe for you this is taking 20 minutes in the morning to do a more elaborate face of makeup while you really focus on your breathing and the music you’re playing and the day ahead of you. Maybe it’s starting the go to bed routine 20 minutes earlier so you can really take care of your skin. But building in time to rest your mind, reconnect with the present moment, and show your body a little love too? That’s the kind of everyday practice that helps you feel human and academic at the same time.


My favorite quick-drying, high shine top coat

My favorite base coat

My go-to brand for on trend colors, with drugstore availability!

The best neon nail polish brand, if you’re into dangerously bright nails

My splurge brand


Always Have a Side Hustle, and Other Lessons I Learned from Academia (Part 2) – Guest Post

I am delighted to offer this guest post contributed in response to my recent call for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color. I am still enthusiastically welcoming draft posts and ideas/pitches – send them to me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.

Dr. Nneka D. Dennie is a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Davidson College. She researches black intellectual history, black feminist thought, and black radicalism. When outside of the classroom, she enjoys cooking and playing soccer.



Nneka D. Dennie, PhD

In part one of this series, I discussed the importance of having a side hustle and setting boundaries. In part two, I turn to networking, the dissertation, and productivity.


Network selectively.

I don’t think I know anyone who genuinely enjoys networking. Some of us may excel at it, but very few enjoy it. We’d probably rather sit at home in pajamas with our noses in books. (Am I projecting yet? Probably.) Alas, networking is vital to building mutually beneficial scholarly communities. Part of our charge as academics, particularly among those of us who study processes of oppression and liberation, is to ensure that our work reaches a broader audience. In order to do this, we need to connect with people who do what we do, as well as people who don’t.

First, I’ll address networking beyond faculty circles. This is where having a side hustle is valuable—working outside of traditional academic spaces grants access to untapped resources and audiences. Collaborating with community partners and university staff members creates a more equitable environment by encouraging intellectual exchange beyond classrooms and conferences. As we know, access to these spaces is often limited by structural inequalities derived from race, gender, class, and more. Furthermore, as scholars, we have things to learn from people who are not in academia. This type of networking challenges academic hierarchies by allowing us to reconsider who we see as knowledge producers, what types of knowledge we deem worthy of study, and why. Seeking out meaningful collaborations beyond departmental hallways can enrich your scholarship by introducing you to new perspectives and encouraging you to renounce the jargon that often infiltrates scholarly discourse.

When it comes to networking with faculty, don’t be a clout-chaser. To exclusively pursue influential scholars obscures the fact that all of us, ranging from contingent to tenured faculty, are experts in our fields. Rather than trailing the biggest name in the room (and being embarrassed when you have nothing to say), be intentional about speaking with scholars whose interests have actionable connections to yours. Capitalize on relationships where you can foresee collaborations on panels and articles. Don’t always be the “taker.” Be the “giver” sometimes too. Remember to “lift as we climb” so that we increase opportunities for junior scholars to thrive. While we may not immediately see how helping others will help us, I’m a firm believer that if you put good into the world, it will come back to you.


Your dissertation is not your magnum opus.

Your dissertation is not the end-all-be-all, and it shouldn’t be the only thing you spend time on. It’s an exercise intended to demonstrate that you can do original, independent research and convey your ideas coherently. Remember that dissertations are a means to an end, not an end in and of themselves. Your dissertation needs to satisfy the 3-4 people on your committee. Then you can graduate and perform the work that originally motivated you to attend graduate school. Dissertations serve practical purposes beyond fulfilling degree requirements; they allow you to develop writing samples for job/postdoc applications, and they offer you a blueprint for future articles and a book manuscript. You may be tempted to include all of your wonderful data in your dissertation—don’t. Save some of it for later so that you can differentiate your dissertation from your other publications.

As you write, find time to be still and to do something that sustains you, whether it’s spending time with people who matter or finding an activity that allows you to decompress. While I was dissertating, I didn’t really have hobbies. When I needed a break, I played with my dog or watched TV, but that was pretty much it. I kept telling myself I’d rediscover the things I enjoy when I finish writing. That plan was unrealistic—as academics, we’re never finished writing. There is always more to be done. So, we might as well carve out time to relax regardless of our workload. I went to the pool a few days ago (on a weeknight no less!) and I was surprised by how liberating it was to stop working and genuinely feel guilt-free about it. Taking a break from your dissertation is not the end of the world. Writing can wait. Life won’t.


Always have a project in the works.

I know, I know. I just said to take breaks, and now I’m saying to stay busy. Hear me out. I’m a big advocate for self-care, but I’m also a big advocate for accomplishing your goals.

On an individual level, always having a project in the works ensures that you’re strategic about timing when you ask a colleague for feedback on your work, apply for fellowships, submit proposals for conferences, or send manuscripts out for review. All of these things take time. Academia is more of a marathon than a sprint, and it can take a long time to see the fruits of your labor. While you’re waiting for a response on one front, continue working on something else. Having something on the back burner also gives you an outlet if you’re getting stuck with your main project. You can take a step back from something challenging while channeling your productivity elsewhere.

On an interpersonal level, ongoing projects make for good conversation starters and they make networking a little less painful. Whether we like it or not, “what are you working on?” is a popular question in academia. Having an answer at the ready helps you avoid awkward silences and it helps you build connections with people whose interests intersect with yours.

I can’t overstate the importance of the five lessons I’ve shared in this series. Collectively, they’ve helped me to strike a balance between being productive, finding new opportunities, and being a happy human being. Academics are people, too, but we tend to forget that as we get caught up in the minutiae of higher education. We can (and have to) do better—not just for ourselves, but for our communities.

Starting A #PostAc Business: Guest Post by TPII Coach Ricky Graham

Part III in a Three Part Series on the Post-ac Transition in Creative Fields, by TPII Post-ac coach, Dr. Ricky Graham.  Be sure and read parts I and II also!


I am a guitarist, music producer and former academic from Northern Ireland. I received my PhD from Ulster University in 2012 and I am now the CEO of audio technology company, Delta Sound Labs, in the United States. My work in the music industry spans guitar and computer music performance, production, composing for TV, film and video games and education. My company focuses on the development of hardware and software for creatives, with a specific interest in modular synthesis and audio effects plugins and has recently engaged in projects at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles and Stax Music Academy in Memphis. I maintain a personal website for personal music projects and research at http://rickygraham.com and my company website is located at http://deltasoundlabs.com.

Twitter: @rickygraham


Starting a business has been one of the most challenging yet rewarding ventures of my life.

It has been incredibly satisfying to develop product ideas with a group of talented people that I consider trusted colleagues and friends in equal measure, a group of people that are smart enough to know the difference when it comes to day-to-day business objectives. Initially, I was concerned about how compatible my academic career experience would be in the music industry. To be frank, I’m kicking myself that I ever worried about it as my experience as a professor is entirely mappable to my industry. It takes a person of ability to fulfill the role of a professor. It’s just a matter of casting your knowledge and skills using slightly modified language. My goal for this final installment is to offer an insight into what it looks like one year into starting my own business post-academy, highlight lessons learned along the way and identify experiences from academia that have helped me in starting my own business.

Building Your Team and Nurturing Relationships From Prior Academic Experiences

I’ve learned over the past year that your team, regardless of where you land on the Small-Medium Enterprise spectrum, is where a lot of your valuation will be determined by potential investors and eventually your customers. A team is necessary to execute your product ideas, big or small. This is what investors want to see just as much as a viable product idea. Luckily for me, it was pretty easy to put together a team for Delta Sound Labs. Academe certainly helped a lot in this regard. The relationships formed during my time as an active researcher helped pave the way for fairly obvious product collaborations. Delta Sound Labs’ co-CTO, John Harding, has been a continuous collaborator throughout my academic career. Prior collaborations with John helped form the basis of our current professional relationship and the scope of a lot of our hardware products. We are aware of one another’s strengths and weaknesses and we both know how to motivate one another to produce our best work. I’ve also since continued a few collaborations with companies where first contact occurred through academic channels. Delta Sound Labs is currently working on a few software and hardware projects with Matthias Grob’s Paradis Guitars and Mathons companies.

My relationship with Delta Sound Labs co-CTO, Edwin Park, stemmed from a relationship outside of academia. Edwin is a highly talented technologist that I was fortunate enough to meet through social circles while I was an Assistant Professor in Hoboken, New Jersey. I think it’s very easy to ignore outside industry opportunities while you’re in the ivory tower. It’s very easy to blow off advances from industry personnel because of its seeming irrelevance to your academic cause. Simply put, don’t do it. Investing in a community outside of academia while I was an academic has paid dividends in terms of my new business ventures. It might even be worthwhile to consider your current academic colleagues as future business partners. They may be thinking the same thing.

Learning On The Job

I think it’s fair to say I did a lot of learning on the job as an academic. During my first year on the tenure-track, I was thrown in at the deep end with a heavy teaching load and service commitments, including serving as a committee member on a job search. Trial by fire, so I was told. Generally, a professorship prepares you adequately for any kind of executive role in the corporate world.

Not much has changed and I guess I’m better prepared this time around. I quickly had to learn the ropes in terms of managing bill of materials for product manufacturing, dealing with manufacturers in Shenzhen and developing relationships with vendors in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and a number of European countries. Academia helped prepare me for a lot of these newly acquired responsibilities through advising, research, project management and the usual academic service commitments. Oral research paper presentations prepared me for the multitude of public speaking engagements I’ve completed in the capacity of company principal. My time at an engineering school, specifically, teaching engineers to communicate technical ideas more clearly, helped with my own technical writing and proposals for our company products. Serving on academic search committees taught me how to acquire the right team, to identify key qualities in future team members and potential for project collaborations. Academic search committees also encouraged me to consider the kinds of interpersonal dynamics that would result from a hire and how unhealthy or destructive interpersonal relationships could be avoided.

Another point that I think is worth mentioning is that I was never assigned a mentor when joining the tenure-track ranks. This forced me into a position of having to ask advice of as many senior faculty members on a whole series of topics including tenure and promotion and teaching load and service. This turned out to be a blessing, in a way. I had to get pretty comfortable, quickly, asking for help from others in the know. I have found that this translates very well in the music technology industry. In my experience, thus far, folks respect you more if you’re upfront about what you don’t know and when you ask great questions in order to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Leveraging Your Academic Network in an Industry

In my previous post, I made clear the importance of building community around your service or product. This holds true for any business model. How can academia help with this? Just because you leave academia, doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your network. I’ve now been in several scenarios where academia led to industry opportunities later down the line. For example, an academic paper presentation at the Audio Engineering Convention led to an artist residency for Delta Sound Labs at the Technicolor Experience Center in Los Angeles. This was an excellent opportunity for us to tease out product ideas and to conduct customer discovery research in both the film and music industries. Another example of a sustained relationship from academia to industry involved an artist lecture I gave at Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, which has resulted in an ongoing collaboration with Bell research scientist, Dr. Ian Davis, as part of the Experiments in Arts and Technology Program. We’ve taken our collaborative research project between Bell and Delta to the exclusive music festival, Moogfest, in North Carolina and a smaller but vibrant experimental arts festival, Memphis Concrete, in Memphis, Tennessee. This has helped us build brand awareness and brand confidence.

A Small Business and the Big Product Idea

I think one of my earliest defining moments during the first year of starting a company was when I sat in front of a business accelerator CEO for feedback on our initial company products and general company structure. His interpretation was that what I was presenting to him was “a nice, small business” as if it was something I needed to address. He looked at my team and saw a waste of talent. To my mind, we wanted to start our company by building our own small products and then build out onto larger product ideas with complete autonomy over the company’s business model. But he had a point. A lean company utilizes the talents of its team to the fullest extent. And so, I sat down with our team and we teased out what the sum of our parts might yield and what a proof of concept might look like for a patentable product. The result is still a work in progress but we now have a functioning small business that is earning money, a clearer business model and a larger product idea that we’re in the process of prototyping. In sum, this feedback early on helped me to partition the company into two separate but related head spaces:

1) A small business that allows us to test our product ideas and make small amounts of money to fund larger product ideas while building brand awareness and brand confidence. A platform that allows our team to engage with customers at festivals, conferences and conventions to build community around our products.

2) The bigger product idea. For us, this is a larger product that stems from a variety of smaller products tested within the purview of the smaller business. This is the product with patent potential, with a pitch deck attached to it. This is a product that we think solves a problem in our industry. In our pitch deck, we include a clear outline of our business model and how much equity we’re willing to give up weighted against our required or requested investment capital to grow the business.

These two paths could, and in my opinion, should be developed concurrently. As a former academic, you should be no stranger to partitioning and multitasking. The majority of academics, for better or worse, have to learn how to multitask given the many responsibilities imposed on all three buckets: teaching, service and research. Test out smaller products first, conduct customer discovery events such as festivals, conferences and conventions. Once you find your niche, gauge how well that market will respond to your wares before you proceed. Build out a pitch deck to help tease out all the important facets of your company.

Will you succeed at starting a business? The plainly obvious answer is that you won’t know until you try. So, go for it.


#MakeupMonday: Travelling

I’m on a 2.5 week trip East just now that includes Philly for the ASA, then the Jersey Shore with family, then Washington DC for the #KremlinAnnex protest, then Pittsburgh to see my Mom, then NYC for a talk at an Association for Jewish Studies event, then on to Salt Lake City to see my son. Kellee is with me for about most of it. I’m writing this from NYC, where sadly I’m sick in bed with a new cold, setting me back from my mono recovery…  Kellee says Twitter kills my immune system.

So today, just some random pics and thoughts.

First, this awesome makeup travel hack: turn your ice bucket upside down as a great makeup stand! I always have a lighted travel mirror pre-packed in my bag, and this makes an ideal stand for that plus jewelry!

Second, the #KremlinAnnex Protest!  In front of the building formerly known as the White House, every night at 7:30! Lipcolor: BeautyBakerie Lip Whip in Syruptitious.

I am the “I”; Kellee is the “T”

Third, my cute mom! She wanted to know what kind of makeup I use so I shared a few #MakeupMonday posts with her!

In the kitchen with the matzoh ball soup!









And last: this iconic makeup statement–one we can all live by:

Tales of a Tenured Woman of Color in the Deep South – Guest Post

I am delighted to offer another guest post contributed in response to my recent call for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus was a Twitter follower asking for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.

Today’s author is a tenured scholar who has asked to remain anonymous.


I am a tenured scholar at a research one university in the South and much of my career so far has been in southern US states. Most people believe I have had a charmed academic life, as I am part of a generation of academics who experienced a major shift in perspective when the recession hit in 2008, the job market all-but collapsed and the humanities went into a downward tailspin that we are still, desperately, trying to stop. While many graduates of my cohort settled for jobs outside academia after several failed bouts on the job market, I began my academic career right out of graduate school and—at least from afar—seemed to effortlessly make my way to tenure at a leading institution in the Southern USA.

The reality, however, was and is not this simple. When I was first hired at my current institution at the rank of Assistant Professor, I sought out a senior female faculty member of color within just six weeks, desperate to know if there was a support group of any sort at my institution for people of color. There was none. In my first few months on the job, I witnessed the flight of many of my colleagues who did not feel comfortable in a mostly white working environment. Needless to say, women of color struggled the most. It has taken the long path to tenure to even summon the courage to tell my story, albeit anonymously, as my own colleagues are those well-meaning ones who are full of kindness and polite platitudes when they want you to take up an administrative duty, sit on a committee or take on another undergraduate thesis. They are also the ones who leave “poisoned presents”: a card praising something I’ve done that simultaneously critiques me; an email asking me to do more or somehow insinuating that my achievements are illegitimate; hurtful comments behind my back when I least expect it. And the message always reads the same: “You are lucky to be here; you are not one of us.”

Of course, these words are never actually spoken, or written down, and what this “us” purports to mean exceeds the realities of skin pigmentation, facial features or ethno-cultural background. They are experienced in conversations about prospective graduate students or job candidates of color who are repeatedly deemed “unworthy” of our esteemed department or university. They are felt in the demeaning of current graduate students of color who are mocked for their laziness, lack of intellectual sophistication and intelligence.

They resound loudest in the alarming resistance to the most mundane of diversity trainings—a short PowerPoint presentation on implicit bias—or in the categorical refusal to consider the possible benefits of a racially and ethnically diverse academic cohort. Diversity is a chore, a recent American fad to contend with, a foolish game of numbers that must be played with enough strategy and guile to outsmart those who naively believe in its non-existent virtues. Drilled into this mentality is an honest belief that academic brilliance has no color, no race, no ethnicity, no gender, it just simply is, or is not, and if some groups of people have the deck stacked against them, it is not academia’s problem to fix, especially not at the level of its faculty.

I am thus most often complimented by my colleagues for my hair, my dress, my jewelry and my style rather than my intelligence, my latest article or my published book. My scholarship is rarely recognized in public forums while that of my white colleagues is showcased, celebrated, discussed over and over again.

My tenure dossier was examined three times before I was allowed to submit it, and I was warned that I made myself look too good at times and that I should downplay some of my achievements. I was sarcastically told that I mastered the art of “marketing myself” and even graduate students began whispering that my tenure case was probably guaranteed by the color of my skin. Micro-aggressions have come in the form of emails denigrating a speaker of color I invited to campus, or in evaluations that condescendingly praise my popularity with the undergraduate student body. My time and effort mentoring students of color is consistently overlooked in departmental reports, and no one credits my presence in the department as the source of greater diversity among our undergraduate majors and minors. In fact, the increased diversity of our undergraduate population is repeatedly attributed to a diversified choice of courses and structural changes to curriculum, while my courses consistently attract more students of color than those of my colleagues.

As most female academics of color, I have taken on every service-related task that was requested of me, changed my schedule and plans to suit those of my senior colleagues and even volunteered myself for the committees no one wants to sit on. I have even given countless hours of my time to mentoring the neglected graduate students of other faculty members. In many ways, I am the typical work-horse profile one reads about in every Chronicle of Higher Education article or Professor is In blogpost about the lower rungs of the professional academic hierarchy.

Except that I do all of this while navigating the turbulent waters of micro-attacks on my person, my intelligence and my academic worthiness on a regular basis. Over seven years, this has indeed taken its toll: I dread my office and our departmental meetings, fear passing by certain colleagues in the hallways, and when forced to confront them, silently await the daggers that they will invariably shoot at me before the day is done. And all this, so they can return to their beds at night smugly congratulating themselves for hiring a person of color despite their better judgement I presume, for the sake of the diversity of their department and university. Suffice to say, since my hiring, there have been no other persons of color hires in my department. I am thus the proud token minority candidate that adds color to our webpages.

When I first sought help from a senior female academic of color, looking for the support group I would never find, I discovered a most sympathetic ear  — and a beaten-down, worn-out scholar who shared incredible stories of discrimination and blatant racism that were far worse than any that I could recount. She had experienced everything I had, and then so much more. She had even spoken out at one point only to be shut down by those above her. Today, she pours her energies into rectifying the racial disparity that affects our undergraduates applying to graduate school. “That is where I invest my time and energy,” she assured me, “so that hopefully when they become professors, they will be part of something different.”

Tenure as a female academic of color in a mostly white institution in the South thus comes with a renewed mandate for me, to dig my heels in and work towards changing a system from the ground up. What is certain is that no amount of diversity training will improve my daily slalom avoiding micro-aggressions, but my presence in my department and my institution ensures that there will be a constant encounter with diversity, whether certain of my colleagues like it or not. Tenure bestows upon me and my work something that can no longer be taken away or threatened by those around me. As I begin to travel the country and the world giving talks and sharing my work, I feel my self-worth returning for the first time since I was a graduate student.

Though the physical and emotional exhaustion of navigating a daily ritual of racist and prejudicial comments may not cease, I am committed to the hard work ahead of me to be a locus of change in a departmental and institutional culture of explicit bias and implicit discrimination. I have long fantasized about a time when I will no longer greet the prejudicial comments of my colleagues with a hurt smile, or bowed head, tearing up behind closed doors or in a bathroom stall. I have dreamed of lashing out in anger, putting people in their place, responding with sarcasm and personal affronts. And then I remember, the history of the Deep South, the struggles of so many black female thinkers before me, and the wisdom that only oppression can put into words.

This is a first effort to articulate those experiences, thoughtfully, eloquently I hope, with no fingers pointed, in hopes that I can be part of something new for all academics of color and especially the young women to come.

#MakeupMonday – Connecting To Culture Through Cosmetics (Guest Post)

I am delighted to offer another guest post contributed in response to my recent call for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer.  I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus for this as a Twitter follower expressed a wish for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.


By Veronica Padilla

After completing a double-major in Spanish and geology at Colgate University, I am now a PhD student at UC Davis. My dissertation work ties together archaeological records and geochemical analyses in order to reconstruct the environmental history of the northeastern Pacific coast. I want to know when humans first began altering the environment. I am a paleontologist and climate scientist, and I also thoroughly enjoy applying make-up, drinking coffee, tending to my indoor plants, and doing pilates!


When I first decided to write this post, I was worried about putting my name on it. I considered submitting anonymously, so that no colleague or employer would find this in the future and write me off as a frivolous woman that should not be taken seriously in academia. I have had this feeling a lot, particularly as a geologist. I have worried about how I present and what my geoscientist colleagues think. It has taken me some time to realize that everyone is allowed, even encouraged, to have hobbies outside of their careers and to do things that make them happy in order to maintain balance in our stressful, hectic lives. Make-up just so happens to be a hobby of mine; it does not make me any less serious about my science than someone who paints or plays piano in their free-time. Make-up doesn’t take away from my science nor does it quell my passion for what I study. In fact, doing my make-up every day allows me to focus on my work for the remainder of my day. It is part of my daily morning ritual, just like getting dressed and brushing my teeth. I don’t see it as a burden, but rather as a critical step in my self-care routine. Once under-eye concealer and eyeliner have been applied, I’m ready. For anything.

Photo of my beautiful mom from the early 1980s in her legendary red lipstick and thin brows. She was and still is my make-up icon!

I’ve always seen make-up as an art form. I remember watching my mom dip a fine-pointed brush into a small vial of water, and then drag it through a black, ink-like cake before applying it in a thin line across her eyelid. She told me my face was the only one that I had, so I had to take good care of it. By the time I was old enough to wear make-up myself, I was well-versed on skincare and make-up basics, thanks to the examples set by my mom.

Photo of me taken August 2018 outside my lab after a morning of field work and an afternoon of office work. I am wearing all the products mentioned in my list.

I began to associate make-up—particularly eyeliner and penciled brows—with Latinidad. My Mexican mother, with her brown skin, dark brows, and red lipstick, was iconic to me. I noticed that this was a recurring look that was popular among Latina women, even among my own family members. (My 88-year-old grandmother still has make-up on almost every time I see her, including the tattooed-on eyebrows she has had for over a decade.) Women of color in general are known for inventing and popularizing make-up and fashion trends (consider thin eyebrows, long acrylic nails, hoop earrings, etc.).

Because I associate make-up so strongly with my mother and my culture, it was not something I wanted to give up in graduate school. The academic lifestyle doesn’t lend itself well to extensive make-up routines, but if something is important to you, you make time for it. I think I’ve found the daily make-up routine that works perfectly for me; I love these products because of their ability to work on brown skin tones, the relatively quick application time, and the long-lasting appeal. (Essentially, I’m telling you that these products are perfect for busy academics of color who like make-up.) I didn’t include face wash, creams, masks, etc., because those are pretty personal and vary on your skin tendencies.

Taken earlier that same day, in the field at Tomales Bay. Notice that the make-up held up all day—no reapplication whatsoever!

Here is my product list (links below):

  1. Origins GinZing SPF 40 Energy-Boosting Tinted Moisturizer—This is colorless when it comes out of the tube, but once you apply it, it matches the color of your skin quite accurately. It won’t look orange, white, yellow, or anything besides a smoother version of your own skin. It won’t even look like you are wearing foundation; it evens out your skin in a very natural and polished way. It also has SPF 40, which is pretty great for a moisturizer.
  2. Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse—This “mousse” is really just a pot of brow cream that perfectly fills in brows. My brows are fairly thick to begin with, but I like them to look evenly full and this is perfect for that. It comes with its own angled brush (my brush has lasted me forever—it’s super well made) for lining or filling. You can apply it as sparingly or liberally as you like. It’s also vegan if that’s your thing!
  3. Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick—I’ve tried a ton of liquid lipsticks, from drugstore to high-end designer brands, and Kat Von D remains my favorite. It is so long-lasting, even after drinking, eating, or wearing it for several hours. Perfect for a full workday since I never reapply once I leave the house. It’s also vegan!
  4. Rimmel London Scandaleyes XX-Treme Mascara—One of the best things about this mascara is that it’s $6. It also works exceptionally well. Despite having thick, dark hair, my eyelashes missed out on the thick and long part. This drugstore mascara packs on length and volume without looking clumpy. Lifesaver. It only comes in “extreme black” so it’s best for those with darker features and hair.
  5. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer—This is a pricey option, but it’s the best undereye concealer I’ve tried. No matter how much sleep I get, I have a sunken, darkened look going on under my eyes. This concealer covers that up and makes me look wide awake. Seriously. I’m tired all the time, but I don’t think anyone has ever told me I look tired with this on. It comes in 22 shades!
  6. Kat Von D Tattoo Liner—This is self-explanatory. I’m a woman who loves her black eyeliner, and this one just happens to be my favorite. It’s long-lasting, easy to apply, and super highly pigmented. It has never faded or run on me.

I wear these six things pretty much every day. For me, make-up is art. It is a form of resistance. It is a way of staying in touch with my Latinidad. It is something I have always done, and will always do. Happy applying!



Always Have a Side Hustle, and Other Lessons I Learned from Academia – Guest Post

I am delighted to offer another guest post contributed in response to my recent call for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color.

Dr. Nneka D. Dennie is a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Davidson College. She researches black intellectual history, black feminist thought, and black radicalism. When outside of the classroom, she enjoys cooking and playing soccer.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer. I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus for this as a Twitter follower expressed a wish for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.


Nneka D. Dennie, PhD

All academics share one trait: we love learning. Whether we prefer labs, archives, or a good, old-fashioned classroom, we are all, in our own ways, drawn to pursue graduate studies because we are fascinated by new ideas. Unfortunately, this fascination at times obscures practical lessons about how to navigate academia without being consumed by it.

Throughout graduate school I had multiple side hustles—in part to pay the bills—but also to curate professional development opportunities and communities for myself beyond the narrow purview of traditional humanities doctoral programs. Like many others, mine sought to prepare students to teach and conduct research in a college setting, without devoting significant attention to broader possibilities that exist for PhD holders. However, universities produce far more PhD graduates than available tenure-track positions. We will not all find ideal TT jobs at our dream schools and live happily ever after. While one can hope, hope is not enough. This realization taught me an important lesson: always have a side hustle. I share this lesson in a two-part series, among others I’ve learned from academia, in hopes that scholars will think seriously about how to simultaneously preserve their personhood and achieve their goals without being crushed by the pressures of higher education.


Always have a side hustle.

I completed my PhD in African American Studies with a focus on black women’s history. My experiences substitute teaching, being a research assistant for a Theater professor, and working full-time as a program coordinator at a university Women’s Center departed significantly from my formal training. Yet, each opportunity allowed me to imagine what my life could look like if I were to reject the notion that becoming a professor is the only career trajectory available to me. Collectively, they allowed me to detach myself from the academic version of the American dream while remaining invested in pursuing my doctorate. Furthermore, each side hustle let me cultivate skills that are both relevant to my field and transferrable beyond academia. When I worked in the Theater Department, I did not have grandiose delusions of one day becoming a dramaturge for a Broadway production. Instead, I did historical research on African-American college students’ experiences and saw how it was applicable to a creative project. I

began working in Student Affairs immediately after becoming ABD, which inspired several side-eyes and cautionary tales from well-meaning scholars. Nevertheless, working at a Women’s Center proved to be an important complement to my graduate studies. It afforded me the opportunity to bridge black feminist theory and praxis, as well as explore alternative pedagogies for teaching students about women’s activism. I created and facilitated workshops, taught a WGSS course, and coordinated my university’s inaugural black feminist symposium. Working 9-to-5 while ABD forced me to be intentional about meeting writing deadlines and applying for dissertation fellowships. After a year, I left my job for a fellowship at MIT; oddly enough, taking a nontraditional path led me to a more traditional goal.

Most importantly, however, spending a year away from my graduate institution reminded me that I am not defined entirely by my degrees. Having a side hustle made me divest my worth from my scholarly productivity. Research is what we do, but it is not who we are.

Side hustles can serve a variety of purposes. They force you to be honest with yourself about who you are when you strip away the awards and publications. They allow you to take stock of your skillset, and they open your eyes to other possible career paths. In the increasingly precarious world of academia, side hustles encourage you to develop skills that are both applicable to the work you strive to do, and transferrable if you ever determine that a tenure-track position is not your end goal.


Set boundaries for yourself and others.

Repeat after me: I am not my work. Once that sinks, it becomes much easier to set boundaries for yourself and others. Capitalist institutions—which include colleges, no doubt—will extract all the labor they can out of you. Chairs will volunteer you to be on committees. Undergraduates will send you “urgent” emails at all hours of night. You can easily fall prey to external demands on your time and energy. Or, you can say “no.” This act of refusal can be a radical act of self-preservation. As Maxine Waters has shown us, sometimes you need to reclaim your time.

Boundaries look different based on personal circumstances, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. For some people, it may mean not working after 5 PM in order to maximize quality time with their families. For me, it meant placing a cap on how many jobs and postdocs I applied to, and only accepting a position somewhere I’d like to live. In the spring, I took a risk by turning down a tenure-track position for a postdoc. While I struggled to arrive at that decision, quality of life matters to me, and taking that particular job meant disregarding one of my boundaries. After spending nearly ten years in rural Massachusetts, I longed for a change of pace. As a young, black woman, I couldn’t picture myself working in a 95% white, largely conservative area far from my family and friends where much of the population was married with children.

Abiding by self-imposed rules encouraged me to balance the time I spent applying for positions with the time I spent writing. It also protected my feelings somewhat because—let’s be real—nobody wants to receive 50 rejections. When it came time to choose a position, my boundaries ensured that my wellbeing did not take a backseat to my career. I describe this experience not to suggest that this scenario nor degree of choice is universal, but to offer an example of how it is possible to prioritize your individual needs and preferences by maintaining your boundaries, whether big or small.

In part two of this series, I share lessons I’ve learned about networking, dissertating, and productivity.

#MakeupMonday: F*ck Trump Edition

We all know it is not possible to buy our way to political empowerment (indeed some TPII clients are doing great feminist analysis of the limits and agendas of commodity feminism), but your wallet also does have some power and if you’re going to be buying things, you can try and focus your purchasing on companies that do good work.

In that light, I’m pleased to introduce Lipslut, a company that created the Fuck Trump lipcolor, which raised $40K for victims of Charlottesville, within a week of launching last fall.

50% of their proceeds go toward a progressive charity. From their website:

“How are our campaign charities chosen?

With every lipstick purchased comes an opportunity to submit a vote for your favorite charity. At the end of our campaigns we’ll tally the results, and winners will be announced by popular vote.”

I just recently learned about the company, and decided to buy the FT lipcolor for myself to share here on #MakeupMonday and for the dedicated and ferociously anti-trump and lipstick-loving TPII staff.

Here it is – a really pretty rosey pink cool toned shade.  A bit brighter than I usually wear but I really like it.

Full disclosure: does not wear for a billion hours like my Beauty Bakerie and other long-wear lipcolors but like most matte liquid lipcolors, it stays for a good while.



I’m also super fond of the concept of their “Leftylibglobalistsantifacommiesocialisthollyweirdopigs” lipcolor, named after some feedback they got from an online troll!

As they describe it:

“Leftylib-yada yada matte liquid lipstick is a deepcoolberrypurplishbluetoneplumredwine because apparently real words are limiting now.

You asked for it weirdos, so here it is. To be honest, we can’t believe we’re making it either.








I love an indie makeup company that walks the talk and has a sense of humor while doing it!

The Violence of Academia’s “White Voice” – A Guest Post

I am delighted to offer the first guest post contributed in response to my call this past week for contributions to the blog by black women and other women of color.

The author, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a doctoral candidate whose research and activism is rooted in questions of social citizenship, personhood, and public space. In between her dissertation and job market application, she paints, crochets, and harbors dreams of being a full-time advocate for immigrant rights and a freelance writer.

If you’d like to submit a post or an idea for a post for consideration, email me at gettenure@gmail.com. I pay $150 for accepted posts. The posts can be anonymous or not, as you prefer.  I welcome content on #MakeupMonday (the initial impetus for this as a Twitter follower expressed a wish for #MakeupMonday posts oriented toward women of color) as well as anything related to the academic and post-academic career.


In the film Sorry to Bother You, the protagonist (a Black man who really needs the job) works at a call center and learns to use his “white voice” to get ahead. The white voice is not just the typically unaccented, high-pitched Standard American Vernacular; it is, as another character describes it, speaking as though you have never been fired, only let go. Speaking as if you have to get going because you might be late for your squash game. It is “the way white people wish they sounded.”

I am a daughter of immigrants, and I do not have my parents’ accents. Over the phone, my last name could well be Johnson, instead of Hernández. But in the years leading up to the job market, I have cultivated and harvested my very own white voice. It is the voice that responds when a professor invites you to dinner and suggests that, in an enlightened public forum such as the university, the alt-right should be invited on to campus for debates. It is a voice that does not quite take a side, it just looks around — sees both sides — and asks a question (a question tempered from deep within the heat of my skin) that might sway the interlocutor in a certain direction, without ever losing the intonation that assures them, “yes, we are all unaffected by this. Yes, this is just a thought experiment. Nothing is at stake. Yes, we could go for a game of squash this weekend.”

In the weeks following Trump’s inauguration, I witnessed police brutality for the first time. We were at a protest and I watched from five feet away, held back by the police with the rest of the crowd, as an officer repeatedly punched a trans woman who was on the ground. I screamed at him. I ran after him, trying to shame him. Trying to find his shame as some kind of trust broke irreparably inside me.

And in the weeks that followed the inauguration, small debates erupted at my university about what it would mean to become a sanctuary campus. The demands ranged from pro bono legal advice for those affected by the Muslim Ban to a commitment by the university to not cooperate with ICE.

One of my favorite professors, heartbreakingly, argued that she empathized, but still believed that failure to cooperate with the government was illegal. How can one respond to that? How could I respond when I was reeling with the image of how the law is enforced? How could I respond if she was writing a letter of recommendation for me that semester?

Queer scholars and scholars of color will know that this is not about the new presidential administration. There has always been a use for the apolitical white voice. The rise of the alt-right, the intensified mistrust of the university, and the targeting of educators through sites such as Turning Point’s Professor Watchlist have only created new moments in which we must employ it, particularly as graduate students and junior faculty. And yet, like Cash, Lakeith Stanfield’s character in Sorry to Bother You, we find that the white voice is never done with us.

A professor who signed in favor of making our institution a sanctuary campus, a woman of color who has worked for decades to advocate for the interests of women on our campus, told me that bravery does not come with tenure. People always say that they are going to stand up for something as soon as they get tenure, she said. But if they are going along with things when they are an assistant professor, they will be an associate professor who goes along with things and a department chair who goes along with things. Bravery does not come with tenure.

I am going on the job market this fall, and I am trying to be both brave and strategic. An impossible tightrope, particularly when data shows that the manufactured “free speech” campus crisis has led to the targeting of leftists.

The white voice is a form of emotional labor, and so is the struggle of deciding when to stop using it.

In the past year I have made connections with faculty and students on campus who are or might be academic activists, and I have paid attention to the rhetoric of disaffected dissent at the university. I wish I could conclude this with a list of practical strategies, but that is something I am still working on knitting together. There are, of course, plenty of resources for dealing with “hot button issues in the classroom,” and, although we have a degree of authority in the classroom that does not exist in interactions with our superiors, one of them is worth mentioning here. Hot Button Strategy #1: Tell a story. So here is the rest of the story:

My professor (whom I admired) suggested we invite Richard Spencer and Milo Yiannopoulos to our campus so that we could debate them and truth would prevail. She ignored what this would mean for marginalized students and the fact that some alt-right speakers use their platform to out trans folx and undocumented immigrants. I told her so in my white voice, not as an argument but as though these were just things to consider. She said that surely I could not side with the student protesters, and when I did, she accused me of “promoting violence.”

My white colleague, a close friend, agreed with me, and began to cry through her heartfelt argument. Our professor took her aside and hugged her, telling her that she loved how passionate she was.

But when it came to me, no white voice was ever going to make her love my passion, or my dispassion. My passionlessness, my passivity and objectivity, were betrayed by my color and my solidarity with marginalized people, and so, to her, my white voice was still threatening.

So, you are going to be who you have always been.

And yet, here is the continuation of my white voice: I am requesting that this be published anonymously.

But here is my commitment to the struggle: I still wrote it.

A Provost Leaves Academia, Part IV – The Transition

This is the fourth and final installment in the #Postac series, “A Provost Leaves Academia,” by Dr. Terri Givens.

Dr. Terri Givens is a consultant in higher ed, and soon to be former provost at Menlo College. She has been a professor at the University of Washington and University of Texas at Austin, and is the proud mother of two teenage boys.


KK: I encountered Dr. Givens’ story of imminent #postac departure on social media and immediately asked her if she’d be willing to share thoughts of her transition with us. She generously agreed. This is her final post (for now!)


As I write this, it has been a month since my last day at Menlo College, and I have to say that I’m still very excited about what the future may hold. What has surprised me the most about the transition from provost to consultant has been the sense of freedom I have felt. The amount of email I deal with daily has declined dramatically. I still have a lot of meetings, but they are usually shorter, more interesting, and I have time to think. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how natural it has been for me to work mainly from home, and to be exploring a variety of opportunities that I hadn’t considered before.

In the last few weeks, I have accepted a position as the Executive Director of the Edgemakers Institute, but I’m still pursuing my consulting practice and exploring the world of edtech and how to build bridges between the tech world and higher ed. I spent the past week in Washington, D.C., attending a conference on teaching, as well as having meetings with folks on a variety of subjects. It was invigorating and I’m still processing all the possibilities that were discussed.

My boys have joined me for two weeks of vacation here on the East coast, and as we were visiting the NMAAHC yesterday, I heard this quote from Zora Neal Hurston,

“At certain times I have no race, I am me. When I set my hat at a certain angle and saunter down Seventh Avenue, Harlem City, feeling as snooty as the Lions in front of the Forty-Second Street Library, for instance … The cosmic Zora emerges. I belong to no race nor time. I am the eternal feminine with its string of beads.”

This quote touched me for a variety of reasons. I’m working very hard to stretch myself beyond the boundaries of higher ed. I’m trying to figure out, who is the cosmic Terri? I’ve accomplished so much in my life, yet what does it all mean? I have a sense of freedom now that I haven’t had before in my life. I know I have a lot to offer, but I haven’t quite figured out how I want to package it. So, I have a lot to digest. My string of beads is very long…

When I got tenure, my sister suggested that I buy something tangible that represented for me what that accomplishment meant. I bought a pin of a woman flying. I still have that pin, and I intend to start wearing it again. What I feel is important right now isn’t necessarily how to package myself, but the fact that I can fly – and go where I want to go. That freedom is invaluable to me right now. I have always found that the universe responded to the energy that I gave to it. I have always had a powerful internal life force that matched my physicality. When I ran track in college, I ran with the best, and I excelled in school, getting accepted into one of the best graduate programs in the country when I went to continue my education.

As a first-generation college-goer I never put limits on myself, because I didn’t know that I should. I hope that lack of limitations guides me now. Academia was all about limitations – where you could and couldn’t publish, what you should and shouldn’t do. I often ignored the naysayers, but not often enough. I know now that I must own my accomplishments and be willing to try the things that challenge me. I get frustrated with my (mostly female) friends who downplay their accomplishments and suffer from lack of self-esteem. I know that academia is an environment that can beat you down, but they have all accomplished so much, and I want them to be able to see it and own it.

We are mothers, wives, sisters, researchers, writers, teachers, mentors, speakers, and so much more. Those of us from minority backgrounds have had so many other hurdles to overcome, and we need to be proud of how we made it here, and if we didn’t make it, we need to understand the institutional bias that kept us from succeeding. I will remain frustrated with academia in that there are still so many unnecessary hurdles that are put in front of people who could be amazing researchers and teachers. The stress and strain of graduate school, getting tenure and post-tenure review has caused great mental harm for many. It isn’t necessary and we all deserve better.

For now, I will continue the battle outside of the ivory tower. I have much to do and say, and I hope you will continue to follow me through my blog posts, Inside Higher Ed column and op-eds (including my most recent one on immigration).