How We Met
Careful not to let the sweet goodness run down my arm, I devoured the popsicle like it was my last meal.
When it was gone, I sat in the corner with my back against the wall and my knees in my arms reminiscing about the good times we shared. It was the best five minutes of my life!
A banana pudding popsicle? Why would anyone do that? Why did I do this to myself? Who am I?
When I walked out of her apartment with a dozen popsicle in hand, I didn't know what to expect. It was magical!
Dr. Rondrea Mathis is more than just an educator; she is a renaissance woman.
We met in Dr. Emma Dawson's African America Novel course in 2008. It was a senior level class, but somehow I got in as a sophomore having no literature classes prior to enrolling. Honestly, I just needed the credits.
Surrounded by honors students and upperclassmen, I was intimated, but Rondrea's warmth helped ease my anxiety. She always made me feel included in every conversation. I formed opinions I didn't know I had. My experience in that class helped me mature and in 2011, Rondrea presented me with another opportunity to embrace my Blackness and my womanhood. She asked dozens of her friends to travel back in time and write letters to our younger selves.
Colored Girl Stories: A Letter to My FAMU Self was the first time my work was published in a book. Holding my work and seeing my name is print is a feeling that I cannot describe.
When I moved to Tampa in 2015, we finally lived in the same city for the first time since college. Sadly, it took me five months to visit her apartment and it turns out she lived right around the corner.
On Christmas Day, she welcomed me and my partner in her home. She treated us like family and that's saying a lot; Rondrea doesn't fool with everyone.
Her location became very convenient when she began making her own popsicles. It started with a few Instagram posts and quickly spiraled into a full blown creamery. The demand for her banana pudding, caramel apple and cookies and cream popsicles was so high, that she put them on dry ice so she could make deliveries at Florida A&M University's homecoming.
Writer, educator, minister and popiscle connoisseur: Rondrea's receipts cannot be measured.
My prayer is that I am able to use my gifts to bless other women the way that she has blessed me.
Rondrea, you are too dope for words.
Dr. Rondrea Mathis is a 2008 and 2010 graduate of Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in English education. In 2015, Dr. Mathis earned her doctor of philosophy degree in English literature from the University of South Florida, and she is an assistant professor of English at Bethune-Cookman University.
She is an advocate of social justice, Black feminism, and womanism, and her future research suggests examinations of Black women’s contemporary and/or alternative spirituality and manifestations of “sister girl genius.”
In 2016, Dr. Mathis launched an independent Black-owned business called Pop University where she handcrafts small batch, natural fruit bars in a variety of flavors and textures.
How You Can Find Rondrea