Leandra Preston-Sidler

Associate Lecturer, Women's and Gender Studies, College of Arts & Humanities 2017 Women's History Month

What is your current job title and responsibilities?
Associate Lecturer of Women’s and Gender Studies, CAH

What is your history at UCF and before UCF? 
I started as a Visiting Instructor in English in 2001, was a GTA before that as I completed my Literature MA at UCF. I taught Composition I and II before Dr. Lisa Logan invited/hired me as the first full-time Women’s Studies Instructor at UCF in 2004. I was grateful for the opportunity, as I have made a life of feminist activism and am working in my dream job. In 2007, I started a non-profit organization, Animal Safehouse Program of Brevard, which fosters pets for women in domestic violence shelters.

What is your academic background?
My BA and MA are in English/Literature, minors and certificates in Women’s Studies. I taught for seven years with my MA before I began (and completed six years later) my PhD in Texts and Technology. The T&T program is interdisciplinary, flexible, ‘new,’ and augments existing fields in exciting ways. It was a perfect fit for my work in feminism, body/beauty technologies, and gender.

What is your favorite UCF memory?
Earning my PhD after so many years with my baby girl and family in the audience. My goal was to earn my PhD by 30. I did it by 40. No complaints because I DID IT.

If you could change one thing at UCF, what would it be?
Women’s and Gender Studies would have a Bachelor Degree program. This would include a Women’s Center and Women’s and Gender Studies building, as well as a couple WGST tenure lines.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with your colleagues?
It can be hard not to shift to auto-pilot with so many tasks, especially online teaching without f2f student contact, but try as you might to maintain passion for what you do. It is infectious and our students benefit from our love of teaching and learning.

If UCF was going to name something in your honor, what would you like it to be and why?
A Women’s Studies’ building because I have devoted my life and career to the program and its endeavors. I would also love to have a large kennel built onto one of our domestic violence shelters in Brevard, but would prefer they named it after my first love and Animal Safehouse Yorkie mascot, Isabella.

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 like to meet and talk with our new UCF CAH Dean, Jeff Moore. I am also a longtime fan of Dr. Schell, as he was my English Professor many years ago and has been a kind and constant source of inspiration at UCF. I also admire Dr. German.

Who at UCF would you like to thank for your success?
Dr. Lisa Logan has been my longstanding and most profound mentor. She opened tremendous opportunities and shaped my career. Dr. Maria Santana has been my other more recent mentor. Women’s Studies Directors and activists are my heroes.

Name and describe a teacher or researcher from your past who truly inspired you and why.
As previously noted, Dr. Lisa Logan was a profound influence as a professor and, later, colleague. Dr. Shelly Park was my most notable early influence, as her Feminist Theories course was my first introduction to women’s/gender studies in academia and shaped my career trajectory.

What undergraduate or graduate class/program/experience inspired you the most and why?
As mentioned, Dr. Park’s Intro to Feminist Theories influenced my undergraduate experience, inspiring me to attain a Women’s Studies minor, but the PhD in Texts and Technology was another  tremendous influence. Dr. Bowdon’s Gender in Texts and Technology profoundly influenced my research in beauty and body technologies.

What is your favorite restaurant or food?
I have two in Brevard—Fat Snook and Crush Eleven. Those are my special occasion restaurants (and the owners live on my street though I don’t know them personally). I also love anything Italian/vegetarian, as my mom is from Naples, Italy so we grew up spoiled with the best pasta and sauce.

What is your favorite movie, book or music?
Books: Toni Morrison’s Beloved (and any of her work, really) / Augusten Burroughs memoirs Movie: True Romance. Music: Everything—there are few limits to what I like musically. Currently, my daughter and I are on a Maggie Rogers kick. She is an incredible new artist.

What is your favorite vacation destination?
I went to Maui once and would love to go back but Naples, Italy is like home. And oh, the food…

 

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Linda Walters, Director of the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty
Linda.Walters@ucf.edu

Fran Ragsdale, Administrative Assistant
Fran.Ragsdale@ucf.edu

Phone: 407-823-4240

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University of Central Florida
P.O. Box 160955
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Center for Success of Women Faculty
CL1 Room 207
32816-0955