Tonya C. Hegamin is a Type 1 Diabetic with a medical alert service dog, Bobo.
She has worked with organizations like Women Against Rape, Police Athletic League and Planned Parenthood since 1998. Her experience as a patient and victim advocate and community educator stems from her personal journey as a bisexual and chronically ill woman of color. Her advocacy focuses on medical bias and seeking legal accommodations in higher education and work settings. She also helps patients and medical professionals suffering from social stigmas of health through Narrative Medicine.Hegamin attended the New School University’s Creative Writing MFA program, and she holds a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion Education and Training from Cornell University Institute of Labor Relations. Tonya’s novels, short stories and poetry focus on cultural history, inclusion,(dis)ablity, LGBTQIA+, body positivity and womanist perspectives. She has won awards, reviews and recognition from The New York Public Library, The Christopher Award Foundation, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post and Essence Magazine. Currently, Tonya is a tenured Associate Professor at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY. She has spoken internationally about integrating diversity and inclusivity into healthcare, creativity, teaching, and leadership.
Houghton Miflin Books
M+O = 4EVER
What happens when the equations of your life just don’t add up? When the plans you’ve made since you were a kid all come tumbling down around your ears? What happens when your best friend leaves you forever before you even get to say goodbye? Before you can get to tell her how you really feel?
In one of the first LGBTQIA+ YA novels about young people of color grappling with sexual identities, award winning author Tonya Cherie Hegamin explores race, sexuality, history and family for two not-so-typical teens growing up in rural Pennsylvania. Tonya’s first novel for young adults exhibits the power of unconventional, unconditional love.
In 1848, an educated slave girl faces an inconceivable choice—between bondage and freedom, family and love.
On one side of the Mason-Dixon Line lives fifteen-year-old Willow, her master’s favorite servant. She’s been taught to read and has learned to write. She believes her master is good to her and fears the rebel slave runaways. On the other side of the line is seventeen-year-old Cato, a black man, free born. It’s his personal mission to sneak as many fugitive slaves to freedom as he can. Willow’s and Cato’s lives are about to intersect, with life-changing consequences for both of them. The award winning author's moving coming-of-age story is a poignant meditation on the many ways a person can be enslaved, and the force of will needed to be truly emancipated
Houghton Miflin Books
The mother in this long lgtbqia+ inclusive poem is an enslaved field worker on a big plantation by day, but at night she is a secret agent for the Underground Railroad. Mama makes a very special gift for her daughter so that even if they can’t be together, her child will always remember how much she is loved.
I wanted to write about the lengths mothers will go to for the sake of giving their children a better life. So many mothers today work and can’t stay home with their kids. Many mothers are forced to leave their children for extended periods of time with family or trusted friends in order to provide.
My book for middle-grade readers is told in both poetry and prose. Marilyn Nelson and I wanted to write a book for a friend of ours, Mr. Abraham Haqq, who, despite seemingly insurmountable odds, has accomplished an incredible amount of research about African-Americans contributions to the historic town of Colchester, Connecticut.The story begins with 15 year old Pemba, who gets uprooted from her home in Brooklyn, New York to live in small town New England. She’s anything but excited. She’s not only missing her boyfriend, Malik, and her best friend, Raysha, who seem strangely unable to communicate with her once she’s gone, but the house they’ve moved into gives Pemba the creeps. To make matters worse, her mom has volunteered Pemba to be Abraham’s assistant at the library. But as the days go on, Pemba keeps having the feeling she’s being watched, and she can’t shake the weirdly vivid dreams she’s been having, even in the daytime. Only by confiding in Abraham can she unravel the mystery of what’s been haunting her and why.
Abraham Needs Your Help!
Please visit our GoFundMe page to find out how you can support the real person behind the character in the book!
A Gathering of the Tribes: Marathon Reading | Day One
Tonya Cherie Hegamin read her medical narrative poems "Dear Insulin", "Edge", and "Resilience is a Beautiful Thing" about disability inclusion during this two-day marathon poetry reading that honored the history of A Gathering of the Tribes. Founded in 1991 by poet and artist Steve Cannon, Tribes provides a platform for traditionally under-represented artists and writers, amplifying the emerging and established revolutionary voices of our time.eat video
"My Familiar" is a short digital story about disability inclusion and the kismet between me and my service dog, Rambo. Written and produced by Tonya Cherie Hegamin with StoryCorps.
Read My Essay: Radical Imperfectionism
Read My Essay: We Don't Need No Creative Writing
Diversity and Inclusion: A Manifesto and Interview