What is your current job title and responsibilities (please make sure we know your College, Department, etc.)?
Professor of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Education; Coordinator of World Languages Education; School of Teaching, Learning and Leadership; College of Education and Human Performance
What is your history at UCF and before UCF? (past job titles, responsibilities)
I came to UCF as an associate professor in fall 2007 after having moved from being an instructor, assistant professor, and associate professor at USF and USF St. Petersburg. I had a hard time remembering to change that middle S to a middle C! Before I joined the university as a faculty member, I was a coordinator and teacher for Pinellas County Schools.
What is your academic background?
My studies have always focused on communication and language. I began with a bachelor’s in mass communications, went on for a master’s in linguistics, and obtained a doctorate in second language acquisition with a cognate in instructional technology. I love everything about language and communication, and the more languages, the better!
What is your favorite UCF memory?
I think it was when we brought in our first TESOL PhD track cohort of students. We had worked very hard to establish this new program, and we had recruited a very talented group of new students who were thrilled to be at UCF (and we were thrilled to have them).
If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be? ($ and time no object)
I would make it closer to my house! My husband still works in St. Petersburg, so we split the difference and live in the Kissimmee area.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
It can be really difficult to go through all the reviews for tenure and promotion, so I always advise new faculty to put the focus on the work, not themselves. Whenever I write a summary of my teaching, research, or service, I think of it as a chance to share the impact of the work and the good that it is doing for the discipline and for our community. I don’t see myself as the focus of the review, especially since I believe that any work I do is supported by so many wonderful colleagues and by scholars who have paved the way for what I’m doing.
If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
When my children were small, I became involved in working with midwives and with political advocacy for schools of midwifery, so if UCF ever opened a midwifery school, I’d love for it to be named in my honor.
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 M.C. Santana. I greatly admire what she has done for the farmworker community, and she and I have been trying to find a mutually convenient time to meet for lunch for more than a year!
Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
That’s easy—Dr. Mike Hynes, Director of the School of Teaching, Learning and Leadership. He is the best boss I’ve ever had, and one of my bosses of the past is my best friend, so that’s saying a lot! He helps open doors and makes resources available for faculty to do our best work, and I would not be where I am if it weren’t for him.
Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
My fifth grade teacher, Miss Hacker, took a personal interest in every student and made time to talk with us individually about our lives and our struggles. She also made us write a 50-page paper, which got me started with academic writing!
What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
Once I got into linguistics, I realized there was a field that was made for the way I think. I can remember feelings of euphoria in parsing syntax, a type of intellectual high that drew me into advanced graduate study. I remember telling friends at work about this euphoria and being told I’d gone off the deep end!
What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I love Indian food. It feels like comfort food to me—there’s nothing better than swiping naan through vindaloo sauce!
What is your favorite movie, book or music?
My favorite movie is National Lampoon’s Vacation, the original one with Chevy Chase. When I feel down, I put on that DVD and start laughing right away.
What is your favorite vacation destination?
Since I met my husband in Italy, I’m going to say Italy J