I am an instructor of Composition and Literature at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon. I adore my job and find deep joy in guiding my students down their academic paths, helping them gain new knowledge and deepen their critical thinking along the way. I am often teased by friends for my tendency to bring the teacher within me into every part of my life. I think one of the greatest joys of life is getting to witness someone gain a new awareness or understanding about themselves or the world they live in.
I have a Bachelor’s degree in English from the State University of New York at Plattsburgh (with a year of National Student Exchange study at California State, San Bernardino), a Master’s in English from Illinois State University, and a PhD in English Studies from Illinois State University. My dissertation focused on Black American women’s life narratives as they appear in picture books, allowing me to combine my favorite areas of literary study: women, Black American, and children’s literatures and life narrative writing. I also have a strong background in Minority Rhetorics and Composition and a passion for teaching.
I love integrating sources from as many places as possible into both my own personal learning as well as into the courses I teach. I often use resources from NPR and my favorite website, TED, in my courses. StoryCorps is one of my favorite archives on NPR. It provides a space for people from all walks of life to record and preserve their stories. One of my favorite TED Talks is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,” which you can watch below.
Outside of the Professional World
Outside of work, I love engaging with nature, entertaining my inner five-year-old, and learning new things.
I commune with nature while hiking, taking long walks near the ocean, camping, and pulling over to investigate new parks and trails just about anytime I see a sign for one. In Oregon, some of my favorite hiking spots include Sweet Creek Falls, Siltcoos Lake Trail, Waxmyrtle Trail, Shotgun Creek Trails, Fort to Sea Trail, and the Cape Perpetua Trails. When I lived in Illinois, I spent many days trekking through the amazing beauty of Starved Rock State Park, often sitting in the nook at the base of Wildcat Canyon for hours. I grew up in the countryside of upstate New York near the Adirondack Mountains and the shores of Lake Champlain. This no doubt helped shape my appreciation for nature and hiking. As my friends can attest, I will rarely pass up a chance to spend the day surrounded by the nature’s offerings no matter where I might be.
My inner five-year-old is fond of playing on swing sets, going on road trips, visiting toy stores, and going on spontaneous adventures. She is also fond of riding carousels, especially ones that offer a ride on a giraffe. I’ve ridden on carousels all over the country. One of my favorite rides was the one I took on the Carousel on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. I even got to ride on the Sea Dragon, one of the most popular seats on the carousel.
I’m always on the quest to learn new things and spend a lot of my free time hanging out in bookstores, libraries, and museums. Some of the best museums I’ve been to include the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Museum of African American History, the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, the Art Institute of Chicago, The Getty in Los Angeles, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and The City Museum in St. Louis, which I frankly think every “child” (young and old) should get to visit at least once in their lifetime.
As you might imagine from my areas of study and love of bookstores, I read a lot both as part of my career and for personal enjoyment. In my leisure reading time I tend to read mostly nonfiction, especially memoirs, autobiographies, and science books, with a special fondness for Mary Roach’s work. One of my most fascinating recent reads was Alice Dreger’s Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Advocates, and the Search for Justice in Science, which I highly recommend. I also read poetry often. Mary Oliver is my favorite poet, although I enjoy the work of many poets, most of them from the Modern and Contemporary eras.
I adore watching documentary films as my Nextflix account so clearly reflects. Some of my more recent favorites include Samsara, Lost Angels, Advance Style, Tent City, U.S.A, and Call Me Kuchu. One of my favorite things to do after a long day of work is to curl up with a mug of tea and watch a documentary film.
Recently I’ve taken my love of documentary films to a whole new level and begun to do production and story editing work for several documentary films. You can read more about this adventure on my Film Work page. I’ve found this work to be quite rewarding personally and professionally, and plan to continue with such work in the future and possibly even doing some directing as well.
I also enjoy spending time with friends, doing yard work, writing (and receiving) snail mail, and drinking good coffee. Some of my favorite coffee shops include The Coffee House and Deli, The Koffee Kat, The Washburn Cafe, The Coffee Hound, and Allen Brother’s The Beanery. Coffee shops are my favorite place to work as well.
As an introvert, I enjoy the fact that coffee shops offer the opportunity to work in a public space but to still keep to oneself and have some privacy. Some of the coolest introverts I know share this appreciation for working in coffee shops and so it’s not unusual to see a few of us sitting at the same table, each of us working independently on our own projects while enjoying the companionship offered by being surrounded by those we know. For more about how us introverts navigate the world, you can check out the amazing work of Susan Cain, including her TED talk below.
I also deeply appreciate many of the four-legged companions that share the earth with us. My favorite domesticated animals are cats, as you can tell from the pictures of my felines above. My favorite non-domesticated animals are giraffes and turtles. And while I can’t live with them, as you can see in the picture below, I get pretty excited when I encounter replicas of giraffes and turtles in my everyday life.