Meet Dr. Ramycia McGhee
Dr. Ramycia McGhee radiates positive energy as she walks briskly into the poetry classroom with two students trailing behind her, their arms loaded with journal notebooks. Students settle into their desks, the mood is lively and comfortable on a pleasant spring evening. Easy-going banter passes around the room about the day, homework, and current happenings.
McGhee, a seasoned instructor who taught Writing for eight years at City Colleges of Chicago before joining LBCC’s English Department last September, introduces the lesson on Harlem Renaissance poetry and authors. For 80 minutes, McGhee’s rich and rhythmic voice encourages and challenges the students to think deeper, to give more, wake up, work together and respond. Students smile, listen, speak up and answer back. Before you know it, class is already over.
A few people leave quickly, but many linger, surrounding McGhee as she sits on her desk at the front of the room. McGhee calls out homework reminders, shares advice, gives a compliment or two and an occasional hug.
McGhee makes teaching look easy thanks to hard work and a natural connection with students. Born and raised in inner-city Chicago, she worked and volunteered in a variety of jobs mentoring young people as a teenager and young adult. One day, not long after she graduated from college, McGhee was volunteering with Americorps when she was invited to fill in as a college writing instructor for at-risk students in inner-city Chicago.
“I fell in love with it,” said McGhee, who eventually was offered a permanent part-time teaching position with City Colleges of Chicago, where she worked as she finished her doctorate degree in Education Leadership Management. “I will never forget my first day. I had the biggest butterflies and my stomach was in knots. Yet my students were eating it up and I was too. It was instant gratification.”
She found her calling, even though her career plans and training up to that point had been geared toward journalism. After being selected as a McNair Scholar, a program which prepares undergraduate students of color to complete an undergraduate degree and beyond, McGhee received her bachelor’s of arts in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Race and Ethnic Cultures from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Soon after, she completed a master’s in Journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. For McGhee, journalism turned into the perfect background for teaching writing and literature.
The big question, then, is why move halfway across the country to teach at LB?
McGhee admits it was a pretty drastic decision to leave her hometown, but she and her husband had been wanting to move out of Illinois for some time. She was looking to teach full-time at a small school in a small town, to get out of the big city and just slow down. Most of all, she prayed for this opportunity and believes God led her to move to Oregon and LBCC.
“I didn’t know what I was coming into. I’m black, my husband is black. But I know God would never put me in a place that would endanger me,” said McGhee. “I have had nothing but good things happen to me here.”
Chris Riseley, an English Department faculty member who hosted a welcome party for McGhee in his home when she first arrived, said the good goes both ways.
“Ramycia brings a passion for people, poetry, literature and developmental writing to our department at LBCC. I learn something new from Ramycia every single time we get together,” said Riseley.
Colleague Robin Havenick’s office is right next door to McGhee’s and she agrees. “Ramycia adds sunshine to our lives at LBCC! She makes students happy and willing to work hard and be their very best,”
Riseley and Havenick support the Black History Month student essay contest, which McGhee started, and said it has inspired intellectual engagement and action with some of the most important issues facing our country today. Havenick and McGhee traveled to Alabama in April to attend the Peace and Justice Summit, and McGhee will be taking over teaching African American Literature when Havenick retires this summer. McGhee has other plans, too. She said she hopes to start a people of color group on campus, and one day would like to teach at Oak Creek Correctional Center.
In her new community, McGhee said she loves her eight-minute commute to work, the dog-friendly parks, and her new church family. Yet she does miss a few things back home. Around here there is almost no night life, it’s hard to find the right hair stylist, and everything closes too early.
“And girl, there is no soul food here. Period,” said McGhee.
Still, McGhee said she really appreciates the sweet spirit of Oregon. And she makes one thing very clear: this is right where God wants her.
At a Glance:
Education: Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism, with a minor in Race and Ethnic Cultures from University Wisconsin-Whitewater; Master’s in Journalism from Roosevelt University; Ed.D in Education Leadership Management from Capella University
Family: Married for nine years to John McGhee
Fun Fact: Has a collection of more than 50 African American Barbies
Side Gig: Is a freelance make-up artist
Favorite color: Pink
Favorite Author: Sister Souljah
Hobbies: Traveling, reading, writing, shopping, spending time with friends and two dogs Cupcake and Chulo