BA, Writing, Missouri State University
MFA, Writing, Washington University
What made you decide to specialize in writing?
I see beauty everywhere. I also believe in the creation of beauty; therefore, I specialized in writing as a way to interpret and to express unique life experiences.
What was your favorite course in college and why?
My favorite course as an undergraduate was also my least favorite courseâ€”Math 135 (College Algebra). I hated math. I struggled. I had to repeat the courseâ€¦twice. College algebra was my favorite course because I learned much more than formulas and algebraic expressions. I learned about myself. I discovered how to face challenges, how to assuage self-doubt, and how to move beyond fear in order to accomplish goals.
What do you find most rewarding about teaching?
Teaching, for me, is a performance art. When I first began teaching in the late 1990s, the internet, cellphones and social media had not yet blossomed. Twenty years later, I find myself competing for students’ attention against such things as YouTube, Facebook, Netflix and all manner of cellphone apps. Standing behind a podium and lecturing from yellowed, dog-eared notes I made two decades ago simply won’t cut it; therefore, I do my very best to engage, inspire and challenge students with my teaching. I find that most rewarding.
What advice would you give current students or prospective students?
Discover what you love. Do what you love. Love what you do. Your time as a college student will make up only a tiny portion of your life. A degree leading to money, power and prestige has value, but the most important things in life are personal relationships. Pursue an education–not just a degree. Use what you learn to better yourself, your family, your friends and your community.
What would you say to a student interesting in pursuing a career in writing?
As a writer, you have the power to create worlds or to challenge the world in which you live. It takes time to refine your craft, but with dedication and inspiration, you can become a creative, clear and confident writer.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I like to read. I once read an inspiring passage about the hummingbird and the vulture. The hummingbird hovers about, seeking sweet nectar on which to feed. The vulture swoops in, devouring all manner of dead and rotting flesh. Each finds what it’s looking for. So…I look for good things. I pay attention. Whether I am walking through my neighborhood, hiking a state park, driving across another state, or venturing overseas, I look for beauty, and I always find it.