Speaker Inspires Students Facing Illness, Other Challenges


Courtesy of Dr. Lynnda Shields

Roxanne Black (left), author of “Unexpected Blessings,” speaks with San Jac students in 2016. She will be back on the South Campus Nov. 13.

The iConnect Center of San Jacinto College South Campus is hosting founder of Friends’ Health and author of “Unexpected Blessings” Roxanne Black as a guest speaker Nov. 13 to inspire students by sharing her struggle with chronic illness.

Black was diagnosed with Lupus at age 15 and underwent a kidney transplant and chemotherapy treatment for cancer. While dealing with multiple health issues, she managed to graduate college and also started Friends’ Health, a nonprofit organization that helps high school and college students dealing with illnesses like cancer, lupus, or chronic pain. Likewise, she uses her platform as an author to reach others facing similar challenges.

Dr. Lynnda Shields, a College Prep and BCIS professor, contacted Black after reading “Unexpected Blessings” in her READ 0308 course about two years ago.

“As an assignment,” Shields said, “students were asked to contact the author via letter indicating what they learned from the book.”

Shields mailed the letters and after receiving a response from Black, decided along with Administrative Assistant Emily Savino and Vice Chancellor of College Prep Dr. Rebecca Goosen, to bring her to the College as a guest speaker.

Professor of Integrated Reading/Writing Robert Sandhaas assisted in bringing the author to the South Campus. He said he believes Black’s story will not only inspire students facing a chronic illness but will also touch any student dealing with difficulties like balancing classes while working at the same time.

“Seeing how she dealt with her own personal battles can help guide students that sometimes become isolated because of their own struggles,” he said. “I believe that Roxanne Black’s story can help guide students to overcome those hardships and push forward.” 

Roxanne Black will speak during three sessions: 8:15 a.m. to 9:45 a.m.; 10:15 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.; and 12:15 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. on Nov. 13 in Room 152 of the Academic Wing-North (S7), on the South Campus.