SHARING MY STORY
Terza Alice Silva Lima-Neves is a proud Cabo Verdean American woman, wife, mother, educator, scholar, and advocate for the rights of women and girls. She was born and raised in the Cabo Verde Islands, West Africa. Her parents made the ultimate sacrifice of leaving their beloved homeland and emigrated to the United States in search of better educational opportunities for Terza and her two younger sisters.
As a newly arrived immigrant student at Joseph Jenks Jr. High School in Pawtucket, RI, with limited English skills but a whole lot of passion for learning, Terza would meet the most dedicated and wonderful E.S.L. (English as a Second Language) teachers who would inspire her to later pursue education as a career. With the support of her parents and English teacher, Ms. Patricia Anderson, Terza received a full academic scholarship to attend the Lincoln School, a single sex independent school in Providence, RI. Her immigrant parents would work tirelessly in local Rhode Island factories, sacrificing their health so that Terza and her sisters could have all they needed to excel in school. Terza went on to Providence College with a full academic scholarship and subsequently, graduate school. She holds a Bachelor's degree (Providence College) and Masters and Doctorate in political science (Clark Atlanta University). She is currently associate professor of political science and Chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C.
Because of the support she received while growing up in Cabo Verde and Rhode Island, Terza recognizes the importance of educating women and girls. She co-founded the Poderoza Conference, the first International Conference on Cabo Verdean Women to be held in the United States, with her friend, colleague and noted Cabo Verdean historian and community advocate, Dr. Aminah Fernandes Pilgrim. The annual conference serves as a critical platform for empowerment, civic engagement, political and policy debate, institutionalizing a safe space for Cabo Verdean women to engage in discourses of personal and professional development, encouragement and networking. Terza also launched a social media campaign to support efforts of rebranding, empowering, and inspiring Cabo Verdean women and girls, bridging the gap between older and younger generations. She is also passionate about supporting efforts to preserve and promote Cabo Verdean history and culture in the United States, particularly in the southern region of North and South Carolina. As the founding president of the Cape Verdeans of the Carolinas Association, Terza has created a vehicle through which members of this community, their friends and allies can come together and celebrate the rich cultural traditions of their homeland.
Personal and professional research interests have taken Terza to many places throughout the world such as Spain, France, Holland, Portugal, Dominican Republic, and Belgium as well as multiple return trips to her homeland, Cabo Verde. Although she is passionate about her profession and community work, Terza’s main priority is her family, remaining true to the culture she was born into. She absolutely loves spending time with her husband and children, and often finds herself behind the lenses of her professional Nikon camera, documenting her family’s many activities. As a busy mom of toddlers who tries to practice self care as often as possible, Terza also likes some quiet time at her favorite coffee shop sipping on a drink of choice while watching life happen in the Queen City.