We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. James Stancil and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. James, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’ve been involved with community action since I was 16 years old. Reading has been a big part of my life as long as I can remember, going back to when my father would take me to the bookstore and let me choose a book I wanted, through reading comic books heavily in middle and high school, all the way up to the work I do today in reading advocacy, media literacy, and digital citizenship. Looking at my community and how so many people have an aversion to reading, and embrace all kinds of fake news and conspiracy theories, I felt it important to use my skills, talents, and networking ability to do what I can to help. I got my family and a few good friends involved, because we all share the same interests in those areas, and also because we all have some very specific talents to bring to the table. This work also provides us another way to stay together as an extended family, and share some good work together as well.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I worked over 20 years in K-12 education in North Carolina and Virginia, at first as a social studies teacher, and later as an academic coach and tutor before later transitioning to the college level and full-time work in student academic support and to my community work in reading advocacy and media literacy. Today, I am a News Literacy Ambassador for The News Literacy Project for Houston and Coordinator of Tutoring Services at Prairie View A&M University. I formed a 501(c)(3) organization, Intellect U Well, Inc., that promotes the joy of reading, media literacy, and digital citizenship in the Houston community. I recently became a founding board member of Red Brick Academy, a forthcoming Houston charter school for middle and high students, and I also volunteer my time as a local leader with the Houston Network of Outdoor Afro, which seeks to reconnect African Americans with nature and the outdoors, and am a proud 2016 class member of 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, a mentoring organization for young black males. I’ve done a lot in my career, and accomplished a lot, but it definitely has not been easy. I have faced all types of challenges – financial limitations, racism, mental health challenges, illness – you name it. But, I have continued to overcome (I believe) because I have good support from family and friends, and I also believe in myself and what I do. I try to see every challenge or obstacle as an opportunity and a lesson to help me to move towards future success. That can be difficult at times, but I find it the best way to make it in this world. I also try to be a “servant leader” and help others as much as I can. I have found that over the years when I have been in a low position or needed help, others have not hesitated to help me, because they know that is what I would (or HAVE done!) for them. I say to others to never forget where you have come from or how you made it. Also, pay it and push it forward, and help the next generation or our previous generations. All we have is ourselves in this world, and we can’t make it alone. If you try, you will eventually fail.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I have friends and family to come and visit us from the East Coast from time to time, and there are a few places I try to always take them. Buffalo Soldiers National Museum is one for sure, and people always like it. It’s a very well-maintained museum, and the staff there are very friendly and knowledgeable. Space Center Houston is another “must” visit, because depending on where you live in the country, you may not have ever seen so much space history in one place. It’s a great visit, and really a once in a lifetime experience for most people, to be honest. There are inside and outside aspects, which makes it even more enjoyable. Visits to Lucky Land, the Chinese theme park, Health Museum, and to National Museum of Funeral History would also be musts. People usually raise an eye when I mention that funeral history museum, but try it – you will be surprised! A visit to Buffalo Bayou, Kemah Boardwalk, Pleasure Pier, and Galveston Island State Park would also be musts for me, along with a visit to Moody Gardens. We would also enjoy as much local cuisine as possible. That would include Lucille’s, Taste of Texas, Astor Farm to Table in Katy, and Leon’s BBQ down in Galveston.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to direct my shoutout to my parents, James Paul and Elizabeth Stancil, and my brother Vernon Stancil. They were my earliest supporters, and have been there every step of the way in my growth process as an academic and community leader, both during good and bad times, and the positive and negative. My father specifically introduced me to the joy of reading and seeking out knowledge, and my mother helped me to develop my drive to be successful, and not giving up no matter how difficult the challenge. My brother has always been that “silent partner”- seldom seen and heard out front, but always there when you need him to listen, for support, or for some needed resources. I thank them all for helping me to become the man I am today.

Instagram: @twotah

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrstancil/

Twitter: @stancil_ii

Facebook: /mrstancil

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSv2WuLC8G3GV7nSPidIcMQ

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutHTX is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.