taneeka-headshotTaneeka Bourgeois-daSilva
, M.A. criminal justice ’03, graduated from Chapman with the intent of working in law or juvenile justice. However, after a close friend of hers encouraged her to apply for a teaching position in Los Angeles, Bourgeois-daSilva unexpectedly discovered her love and passion for teaching. Twelve years later, Bourgeois-daSilva is not only an accomplished English teacher for children with disabilities but is also a celebrated published author, whose aspiration in life is to build one voice and educate one mind at a time. Here she shares more on her Chapman experience as well as her zeal for teaching, giving advice to current Chapman students.

Tell us about your teaching career. What inspired you to work with students with disabilities?
I originally set out to find a career in the criminal justice field, primarily law or juvenile justice. I didn’t think it was a part of the plan to become a teacher, but I guess God saw different. A friend of mine told me about a teaching position in an inner city school in Los Angeles so I applied for the position and was hired on the spot. That moment changed my life forever and became the start of my twelve year career.

I really enjoy teaching and mentoring youth. It is a very rewarding and inspiring job. You sort of hold their future in your hands. There are few professions out there that require your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual attention the way that teaching does. Working with kids with learning disabilities has given me greater patience and a deeper love for my job.

What insight would you give to current students and alumni who are searching for their career interests and passions?

I highly recommend finding a job and/or possibly finding an internship program where you can get firsthand experience in your field. This way, you’ll have the experience and the degree in order to be well-versed in this competitive market.

Tell us about the process of writing and publishing a novel. What inspired you?

As a teacher, I see firsthand some of the troubles in our educational system. The desire for social media is more prevalent than the desire to read, which has resulted in our country’s illiteracy. I created the
Little Kids, Big Voices
series for many reasons: to encourage reading, promote positive play, and to empower our children to find their voice in this world. My desire is to build one voice and educate one mind at a time.

The writing and publishing industry is very competitive and therefore requires a very dedicated and organized person in order to gain even a fraction of success. Many authors are moving toward self-publishing because it gives them a platform in this field. There are many advantages to self-publishing which include: creative control, flexibility, pricing, and more. I recommend that new authors connect with veteran authors and organizations such as SCBWI, GLAWS, IBPA, and many more. Also, social media is a great asset for authors of all genres. Check out my blog for more tips for aspiring writers and self-publishers at

My first novel,
Broccoli Chronicles
, took over six years to write, mainly because I was new to that field and needed time to develop my craft. I joined writing groups like Critique Circle and worked with a few editors at the Writer’s Digest second draft team. Also, I started a blog, built a website, and created tons of profile pages which have allowed me to connect and network with people in the writing industry. Balancing the creative side and the marketing side has been extremely difficult, but rewarding.

What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?

Network with your teachers, colleagues, classmates, community officials, and anyone that you come into contact with. You never know the information or resources that others have if you don’t reach out to people and become more personable.

From your time at Chapman, which faculty member(s) made the greatest impact on you and why?

My years at Chapman University have allowed me to meet and learn from some great instructors. They informed me about victimless crime, juvenile justice, drug reform, and many other topics. Every instructor taught me something invaluable and impacted my life in different ways.

How has your Chapman degree helped you in your professional and personal life?

Although I switched career pathways since graduating from Chapman, obtaining my master’s gave me the confidence and validation that I needed.

How were you involved on campus during your time as a Chapman student? (clubs, organizations, etc.)

I wasn’t as active as I should’ve been and I regret that. If I could rewind the clock, I would’ve networked more, participated in more events, and made my presence known on campus. Please learn from me and stay connected.

What is your favorite Chapman memory?

By far, my best memory was graduation day! Because I was receiving my master’s degree, as I walked the stage my dad yelled out, “She’s the master of all masters!” I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that, but the smile on his face showed me that he was a proud daddy and that meant the world to me!

Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?

Since graduating in 2003, this is my first time connecting with Chapman again. I plan to stay connected through the alumni blog.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the Chapman Family?

If I could leave you with anything, it would be this… “Use your degrees, talents, and life experiences for greatness!”

Inspired by Taneeka’s Story? Get in contact with her!

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