Professor of English
Expertise: Business and Technical Writing, Grant Writing, Rhetoric
First-Generation College Student
I grew up in the Ozarks, down in Southwest Missouri and I was the last child in my family. I was a late-life baby so I was kind of raised as an only child in that my siblings were already grown and out of the house when I was growing up. I was the first in my family to attend college. It just wasn’t part of my world, so it was something I had to take on, on my own. I didn’t have any help from my parents or any social networking.
I made some mistakes along the way. I graduated in my undergraduate with 155 credits instead of the required 125 at the time after switching my major, so that cost me an extra year of undergraduate classes. It was all well-worth it though.
My original career goal was to be a kindergarten teacher and I made it all the way to my student teaching before I realized I could not spend every day with students that young. But I still had a love for teaching, so I decided that I was drawn more to adult education.
When I realized I didn’t want to be kindergarten teacher I went into communications and was able to graduate with an additional year of study. Then I went directly into working for a marketing firm and realized that wasn’t what I wanted either, I wanted to get back into education.
I then went on to receive my Master’s degree in Organizational Communication and that took the standard two years. I was a teaching assistant while I was attaining my Master’s and then I accepted a position at University of Missouri – Rolla for a year and taught Introduction to Speech and Interpersonal Communication to a school of largely Engineering students.
After I worked there for a year I applied for my doctoral program, and came to The University of Missouri – Columbia for that program and continued to be a teaching assistant. I also began teaching as an adjunct professor while earning my doctorate and have taught at a number of schools all across Missouri such as Missouri State University, Columbia College and University of Missouri – Columbia. My doctorate was in Communications with a collateral field of Psychology, so I also spent some time doing consulting jobs while completing my doctoral program.
English at William Woods
One of the contributions I make to William Woods is my grant writing course. It’s required for Management Information System majors and I’ve also had community members come and take the course. Several grants for William Woods and the community have been funded through student projects in that course. We have been able to secure funding for theatre lighting, a telescope, new furniture for classrooms, and new software for the interpreting lab. We also received $30,000 for SERVE Inc., a community non-profit, which helped them get a new freezer so they can have produce and meats at their food bank. That money also helped them get a scale which they need to track their food intake.
I also teach rhetoric which a lot of students don’t know what the class entails coming into it, but it is looking at persuasive messaging. I like to teach through real life application. So, I use current events and life experiences and apply theory to them.
Teaching at William Woods
When I first started adjuncting at William Woods, I knew it was a special place. We offered a more traditional college experience, which I was drawn to, it offered a stronger sense of community and I think we still have that strong sense of community, 22 years later. I think we do well with first-generation college students who are interested in a smaller learning environment. That appealed to me as a first-generation college student myself.
I think we have some strong writers on this campus and I would like to see more of them double-major or consider English. I would like to see the English department recruit more majors.
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is teaching the general education English courses. There are a lot of students that have been told that they aren’t strong writers and when I work with them, I don’t agree with that. I don’t like to hear students say that they are bad writers because you can’t claim that you’re bad at anything while you’re still learning. It’s an ongoing process and I like to think of them as learning writers. They’re surprised when I say you are good writer but we just need to work on this or that.
I want all of my students to be able to apply the skills and theories to their lives that they are learning in the classroom. I don’t want to teach something abstract that they’ll never use. They can build their portfolios with the work we do in class. I want them to acquire a skill that will differentiate them from other applicants on a resume. The ability to speak and write is crucial.