Shawnisha S. Hester

Participant: PROMISE AGEP Research Symposium


Shawnisha S. Hester

Department: Language, Literacy & Culture (LLC)

Institution: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)



Does Mine Look Like Yours: A Comparative Rhetorical Analysis of Mood Memoirs

The popularity of recent mood memoirs has demonstrated to society a need for agency and authority when conveying personal mental health experiences. Specifically, these mood memoirs demonstrate a belief in the necessity of conveying a narrative that evokes power and offers release from the burden of holding in something powerful that needs to be released. The power of the narrative and its dissemination has the innate potential to speak to, transform, revitalize and empower those who read them. This presentation will address the rhetorical dynamics in the use and influence of literary genres, specifically examining mood memoirs and how rhetoric is used as a means of lexical transmission in the realm of identifying, assessing and disseminating information regarding Bipolar disorder. Systematically utilizing a comparative rhetorical analysis of two memoirists of different races adds to the discourse by introducing voices of women of color to a field that has not been saturated with their narratives and offers scholars in the field a different lens to view a disorder that has had its symptom manifestation, treatment and prognosis universalized.



Shawnisha Hester is a third year PhD student in the Language, Literacy & Culture program at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her research primarily focuses on the utilization of comparative rhetorical analysis as a methodology useful for discerning mental illness in narratives and narrative discourses. Also, Shawnisha works on STEM research that highlights the underrepresentation of minority students, postdocs, and faculty—nationally and globally—in STEM fields   Shawnisha is a licensed Social Worker and mental health practitioner in Maryland where she provides outpatient mental health services.  Shawnisha has an extensive background in the social sciences, where she has earned a BA in Psychology with an Africana Studies minor and a MA in Applied Sociology with a concentration in Aging, both respectfully from UMBC. Also, she earned a MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work focusing on aging and mental health. Shawnisha has experience conducting research both domestically and internationally and has presented her research locally.

In addition to being a scholar, Shawnisha is a freelance photographer who has been a featured Women’s History Month artist, with her work exhibited at the University of Maryland. She works as an event photographer for UMBC’s Graduate School, working with the PROMISE program. As an avid traveler, Shawnisha layers a professional interest in the sociological well-being of her human subjects with their visually expressive testimonies of life and experience. The subjects of her images come from nineteen years of travel in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America.



Shawnisha’s research is interdisciplinary in scope and covers a spectrum that includes but is not limited to discourse analysis, comparative literary analysis, rhetorical analysis, the elderly and mental illness.



  1. Tull, R.G., Hester, S., Medina, Y., Williams, D.N., Medina, H., and Aparaka, E.T. (2018) “Developing Humanitarian Engineering Perspectives among Underrepresented Scholars through Engagement with Sustainable Development Goals in Global Contexts” American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 125TH ASEE Annual Conference Exposition, Salt Lake City, UT: American Society for Engineering Education.

  2. Hester, S., Williams, D., and Tull, R.G. (2018) “The Role of Social Media in Increasing Psychological Sense of Community and Cultural Capital: A Grounded Theory Approach” 10th Understanding Interventions Conference, Baltimore, MD. March 3, 2018

  3. Tull, R.G., Reed, A.M., Felder, P.P., Hester, S., Williams, D.N., Medina, Y., Lo, A., Aparakakankanange, E., and Ordóñez, P. (2017) Hashtag #ThinkBigDiversity: Social Media Hacking Activities as Hybridized Mentoring Mechanisms for Underrepresented Minorities in STEM. American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 124TH ASEE Annual Conference Exposition, Columbus, OH: American Society for Engineering Education. (Also chosen for the ASEE Global Colloquium, Azores, Portugal, September 2017)

  4. McNamara, K., Gioia, D., & Hester, S. (2016). African Americans and depression: Signs, awareness, treatments, and interventions. Qualitative Social Work, 15 (4), 585-588.

  5. Tull, R.G., Tull, D. L., Hester, S. & Johnson, A. M. (2016) Dark Matters: Metaphorical Black Holes That Affect Ethnic Underrepresentation in Engineering.  American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE): 123rd ASEE Annual Conference Exposition, New Orleans, LA: American Society for Engineering Education.


Disclaimer: Information on this page has been provided by and is owned by the student presenter.

%d bloggers like this: