Where do you come from, and how has that influenced where you are now?
When I was deciding to return for my Ph.D., I already had two master’s degrees in different areas. I had been teaching writing for fifteen years and wanted a change from that. I realized that the common thread in my educational and work experiences had always been teaching, curriculum design, and philosophy of education. A doctoral program in education seemed to be a logical next step. I am hoping that the research I am learning to do now will lead me to work that does good for students, especially college students. And I’m looking forward to teaching again.
What do you hope for your students?
All I ever want for my students is for them to find some kind of intellectual passion. I learned myself, and have told them, that education is partly for your work, and partly for how you amuse yourself when you’re not working. I want them to be educated people, not just job-trained. I want them to have internal resources.
In what ways do you, or have you in the past, also worked outside the academy? Is that work connected to your academic research or teaching?
I have a degree in museum studies and worked in historic house museums for ten years. That job taught me so much about how history is learned and taught, and what role museums play in constructing the history we acknowledge in the public world. It was that experience that led me to think about small historical societies, where I did some consulting work, and the way they can exclude minority populations and over-emphasize the area’s glory days at the expense of more recent events that include more diverse peoples. Which, or whose, history a site is telling is so important–communities need to think more critically about this when they are planning exhibits and calling for volunteers. And this logically extends to the history we teach in schools.
If you are an aspiring academic, what are your hopes and fears about the future?
I went back to school so that I could continue working with college students at a higher level, so I’m hoping I’ll have a job where that happens, whether as a teacher or in some administrative role. I have some concerns that I’ll have to take whatever job I can find, regardless of whether it’s what I want to do, because at this point, I know I need a full-time job and don’t know how picky I can afford to be.