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Check Out Shereese Alexander’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shereese Alexander.

Hi Shereese, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
Growing up, I remember huddling on the couch with my family to watch TV together after dinner. It was our time to bond and relax while tuning out the struggles of living paycheck-to-paycheck with two growing kids. One show captured my imagination like no other, and that was Star Trek: The Next Generation. On that show I saw people of color just like me who were scientists and explorers, demonstrating courage, ingenuity, and loyalty in a way that totally captured my heart.

As a young African American girl living in Portland, Oregon in the 1980s, I didn’t see a lot of positive role models being highlighted in my community. The unique characters from the show helped shape my values and ultimately inspired me to become a scientist myself!

Fast forward to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. By this point, I’d earned a Master of Science degree in Medical Microbiology from NYU and I’d been teaching science classes for over 10 years. I was honored to become a role model to young African American students the same way that Levar Burton (playing Geordi La Forge) and Whoopi Goldberg (playing Guinan) were for me as a child.

When I suddenly found myself teaching from home, I discovered a new burst of energy (probably from not having to commute every day!). That’s when a fellow teacher, and one of my best friends, Andrea Danihel suggested we start a podcast all about the show we grew up watching and loving with our families. Thus, The TNG Podcast – A Star Trek Show was born!

That side hobby has bloomed into a global community of like-minded people who believe that science fiction is the key to changing the world for the better. In addition, we are now turning our passion into profits through merchandising and live events which help support us and our growing community.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There have been many obstacles to overcome throughout the years. One of the more simple challenges has been producing a weekly show while engaging regularly with our broader community. We have to stay incredibly organized to stay on schedule, and we often find ourselves finishing things at the last minute. Every time we get an email, DM, or text from a listener, it makes all those late nights worth it!

Another more difficult challenge is putting ourselves out there for others to see. Andrea and I are very opinionated women and we don’t shy away from things we passionately believe in. That means that sometimes we ruffle feathers and on occasion, we hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally. While it’s never our intention to purposefully hurt anyone, it is our duty to be transparent with who we are and what we stand for. I would rather be disliked for being exactly who I am rather than be disliked for being someone I’m pretending to be. This sometimes continues to be a challenge even after having our show running for years.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am the co-host of The TNG Podcast — A Star Trek Show, along with one of my best friends, Andrea Danihel. We produce a weekly show where we talk about important issues such as female empowerment, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and the science of science fiction, all through the lens of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

What sets our show apart from other Star Trek podcasts is the fact that we are both women, members of the BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) community, and we are trained scientists with degrees in microbiology and marine biology. This gives us a unique perspective that many other Star Trek review podcasts might not have.

We are most proud of the amazing and dynamic sci-fi community we’ve created over the past few years. A year into our podcast journey, we started the Sci-Fi Matters Club on Clubhouse to be a safe space to geek out for other science fiction fans. Currently, our club has over 2 thousand members and is growing! These people have become some of our best friends and they live all over the globe–we would never have met any of them if we hadn’t taken a chance to start something we love!

Are there any important lessons you’ve learned that you can share with us?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned along the way is that my voice is important and needs to be heard. It’s really easy to feel small and insignificant in such a vast world as the one we live in.

However, I’ve seen the power of connection and community from something as seemingly “small” as a podcast. For example, one member of our community confessed to us that when he was in middle school, he was overweight and severely bullied for being a “geek”. In high school, he became a fit “jock” and never told anyone about his love of comic books and science fiction well into his twenties. Not until he found our community.

It’s an all-too-common and heartbreaking story of someone feeling like they need to hide who they are. But it is also a beautiful picture of the kind of freedom and connection that is available for people inside the right kind of community. All of this came from Andrea and I simply sharing our voices. We believe that everyone has an inner geek just waiting to be unleashed and we are here to welcome and celebrate that discovery and self-expression.

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Image Credits
Headshot Squad Cameron Rogers

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