What is your current job title and responsibilities?
I am an assistant professor in the Department of Writing and Rhetoric. My time is spent teaching students in our Major and in our Masters in Composition Rhetoric program, researching and writing about literacy in global contexts, and working with colleagues to help provide our undergrads with meaningful and empowering writing instruction.
What is your history at UCF and before UCF?
Prior to coming to UCF, I worked for one year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore College, and just before that I completed by doctorate of the University of Washington, Seattle. Since coming to UCF in 2011, I have worked primarily as an assistant professor, although I did spend 2012-2013 as the Interim Director of the Composition Program. I am thrilled to say that I will taking on the Directorship of the Composition Program starting in Fall 2017.
What is your academic background?
Ph.D. in English
University of Washington, Seattle, July 2010
M.A. in English
University of Colorado, Boulder, August 2002
B.A. in English, magna cum laude
University of Colorado, Boulder, June 2000
What is your favorite UCF memory?
My favorite UCF memories are also the memories that keep me committed to teaching: there is nothing like a past student returning to you and explaining how what you taught them has come to really matter in their lives. My absolute favorites are students who experience the insights of some lesson, reading, or in-class discussion more than two or three years after the fact, as the prior learning moment accidentally coincides with and is made really by some life happening.
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
I adore UCF students, especially the students I have met in the Writing and Rhetoric major. They care about the world and want to make a difference. If I could change anything it would be for these students to have even more outlets (community engagement opportunities, affordable study abroad programs) for bringing their vision of the world to fruition.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
Enacting values through daily practice is what makes institutions run. Staying true to the values we know are right—in our teaching, research, and service—will continue to make UCF a place where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
A beautiful, secluded hiking-trail for faculty, staff, and students to leave their hectic day behind for awhile.
If you could have lunch with anyone at UCF (who you do not normally eat lunch with), who would you choose and why?
I would love to have lunch with some of the first students who attended UCF. I know that the school has grown so much since its inception. It would be fascinating to talk with people who were around when it all first got started, to learn about the ups and the downs of a campus that first came into its own during the Civil Rights Era and a time of major growth for Central Florida.
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
I would like to thank mentors in my department, especially Elizabeth Wardle, Blake Scott, and Kathleen Bell. Even though two out of three of these colleagues have left UCF, their early support of me was foundational for my later success. I would also like to thank my dear assistant professor colleagues, especially my first friend at UCF, Stacey Pigg. My current and most phenomenal friend-colleagues who keep me going. Hands down the best co-workers: Stephanie Wheeler, Laurie Pinkert, Natasha Jones, and Dustin Edwards. Students are also integral to my success. They keep me curious and inspired.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
I must go a long way back for this one: my third grade teacher, Mrs. Melby, who insisted we know about the world if we are ever to understand our own place in it (she got me obsessed with geography), and who made every effort to individualize student learning (she wrote 4-page handwritten notes to every student, every Friday). I aspire to see the world and to treat others as she did.
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Last semester, right after the election, I made an announcement to my Writing and Rhetoric Capstone class: you matter, your voice matters, and we can all use our writing and rhetoric skills to make a difference in the world. Two months later, I received an email from a student in that class, who said that my statements that day inspired him to hope for the future, knowing that there were teachers who cared about the world. That student in turn inspired me. Now, whenever I feel like my motivations for teaching might wane, I will remember that student, who said: “Thank you for the outlet to talk about the real issues that matter and sparking the conversations that will never be forgotten.”
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love trying new foods. Since arriving in Orlando in 2011, there has been a ground swell of great restaurants, a local food movement, and a growing variety of foods from around the world. Orlando is becoming a great place to live if you love food.
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
In my free time, I love to read mysteries, especially Scandinavian, British, and Irish detective stories. If anyone is looking for a summer beach read that let’s you get away from it all, you might try Tana French.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Locally, I can’t get enough of Grayton Beach State Park in the Florida Panhandle, although there’s a gem close by that I highly recommend: Lake Louisa State Park.