DA English: University of Missouri
MA English: Missouri State University
BA English: Oral Roberts University
What made you decide to specialize in English?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, and by the end of my sophomore year in college I had begun to enjoy the systematic study of literature, specifically American literature. I began to think that I might want to spend my life in the classroom. I thought I could help people approach the study of literature as a process through which they study life.
What was your favorite course in college and why?
I took an American Masterpiece course in which we read William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, John Updike, John Cheever, Thomas Pynchon, Saul Bellow, and others. Reading those writers made me take my own writing seriously.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
I particularly enjoy working with students who at the beginning of a course may not think of themselves as serious readers, but who by the end have discovered how much richer their lives have become through reading.
What advice would you give current students or prospective students?
Recognize that education is not merely an economic investment. Applying serious intellectual effort in your courses is a long-term investment in the person you will become. You can make a living in countless ways. What is important is the quality of the life you live as you make your living.
What would you say to a student interesting in pursuing a career in English?
Whether you are interested in writing professionally or in teaching literature, both endeavors require you to place a premium on clear communication. Seek to hone your communications skills every day. Don’t allow yourself to take a day off. Improvement is always possible, and it is frequently necessary.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I am a baseball fan. I enjoy following the St. Louis Cardinals and reading about the history of the game.