Debut book adds new chapter for UD’s Teri Rizvi

“One Heart With Courage” is a collection of essays written by Rizvi over the years, from motherhood to her life at UD.

Lauren Durham | Print Editor-in-Chief

Teri Rizvi, executive director of communication strategies at the University of Dayton and founder of the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop, has been a champion of writing for decades. With the publication of her first book, “One Heart With Courage,” she has recently added “book author” to her list of career titles. 

Published in September 2021, “One Heart With Courage” is a culmination of essays, ranging from motherhood to UD memories, that Rizvi has written over the years. After experiencing uncertainties amidst the pandemic, she decided it was time to dust off her notebooks, look through computer files, and take the leap of publication. 

“It’s not easy to write a book, but it’s like everything else. It’s step by step,” Rizvi said.

Proceeds from the book go to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, a nationally recognized biennial writing workshop hosted at the University of Dayton named in honor of the late humor writer and alumna. After more than two decades of working with up-and-coming writers at the workshop and more than three decades overseeing strategic communications at the University of Dayton, Rizvi has learned a lot about the writing process and the mental hurdles writers go through as they hone their craft. 

“I think the biggest problem [writers] have is procrastination. I mean, I’m guilty of it. Look at how long it took me to get this book done,” Rizvi said. “But, I’m not alone in thinking I have the corner on procrastination or the corner of not believing in myself.”

Cover of “One Heart With Courage”

Originally, Rizvi had plans to self-publish her book of essays and give the proceeds to the Erma Bombeck Writers’. A friend of hers also wanted to give back to the workshop, so he helped her professionally publish the book with proceeds still going to the workshop. 

So far, Rizvi has been overwhelmed by the response from readers.

“I’m not comfortable with self promotion even though what I’ve done my entire career at UD is promote,” Rizvi said. “It’s weird when it comes to yourself.”

Even without a lot of self promotion, she has been featured in writing podcasts, online magazines, and was even interviewed by a Pakistani news agency. 

Her husband, Zafar, is originally from Pakistan, so many of Rizvi’s essays touch on the culture and spirit of the region often overlooked. She feels pleased to have the opportunity to share that perspective with readers. 

“I think in terms of the impact on my own life, being able to appreciate two cultures, two religions, and to realize that we may see a bombing in a mosque or a school in Pakistan and assume that we know everything about the country, but we don’t,” Rizvi said. “What we see, often, is just a small microcosm of hearts. Unless we open up our hearts and minds, we’re never going to be able to truly appreciate differences.”

Her sons, Qasim and Ali, also inspired many of the selected essays. The essay titled “The Men of 1903 Trinity, and one of Rizvi’s personal favorites, details her son Ali’s time living in one of the University of Dayton’s Marianist Student Communities. For Rizvi, part of the joy came from seeing her son, raised Muslim, find community amidst a Catholic household.

“He embraced the whole Marianist spirit, and then embraced him,” Rizvi said. “The people he met began like his brothers, and they are going to be friends for life.”

Rizvi encourages UD students who enjoy writing to seek out any opportunities they can in order to practice the craft and accumulate a portfolio of clips. She finds the ability to observe surroundings and translate them into writing to be invaluable. This practice helped shape her book. 

“You have to hone your ability to observe life,” Rizvi said. “As you’ll notice, this book is really about the little moments in life. The little moments that are amplified.”

“One Heart With Courage” is out now and can be purchased through where most books are sold and through publisher Braughler Books. 

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