B.A. in English, 2008
M.A. in English, 2010, with certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies
Any other degrees:
Ph.D. in English (Specialization: 1600s-1700s English literature), 2015, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Post-Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies, 2015,
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Favorite memories of being an undergraduate English major:
Being enrolled in any class Dr. Claggett taught. My junior year (and first year at MSU), Dr. Claggett gave our Advanced Composition class a final “exam” that involved her teaching us Victorian parlor games. What a delight!
Assistant Professor of English
Interim Director of African American Studies (Spring 2022-present)
Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, TX (about 35 miles north of San Antonio, TX, and an hour south of Austin, TX)
When you graduated with a degree in English from MSU, what were your plans for your future? Has your career path mostly realized those early plans, or have you discovered new plans and goals along the way?
My plan was to teach at a university and land a tenure-track job. So I left for a doctoral program at UNCG and taught composition courses, introductory literature courses, including an introduction to Shakespeare course, and freshman seminar courses.
I was fortunate enough to land a tenure-track job three years after I graduated with my PhD.
My career goals have shifted; at the start of my journey, I wanted only to be an early modernist (shout out to Dr. Lara Dodds for setting me on this path!), so that was my speciality in my PhD program. When I was hired at Texas Lutheran, I was hired to teach Shakespeare and other special topics courses for the English major. What I’ve realized is that I love the freedom on creating special topics courses and expanding my teaching portfolio. Over the last four years at Texas Lutheran, I have taught Shakespeare, a Graphic Novels course, a course called Queer Christianities (where we looked at LGBTQIA+ authors dealing with faith, religion, etc.), African American literature, and revamped British literature survey courses. I’ve become a generalist, and I love it!
The thing that has changed the most, though, is how I think of my teaching and writing as in service to the communities in which I live and was raised. I research food insecurity, especially as it affects college students. My Shakespeare course is a service-learning course focused on food, hunger, and poverty in Shakespeare’s time period, and my students and I work with a local community garden. As an extension of this work, I’m finishing up a book manuscript called A Place at Shakespeare’s Table, and I hope to send the book to publishers at the end of this year.
My career goals now are to continue expanding my teaching profile and look for opportunities to work at a university-level center for teaching and learning or to train future teachers. After I finish my current book project, I would like to write a memoir or collection of personal essays centered on Mississippi, music, faith, and queerness.
What is your current occupation, and what does your work mostly consist of?
I’m currently an Assistant Professor of English at Texas Lutheran University and the Interim Director of African American Studies.
I teach four courses a semester, advise students, serve on various university committees, and write scholarly publications when I have time. I also work closely with student organizations such as the Black Student Union and TLU’s environmental justice group, EnAct.
I also teach a half-semester skills course (called a module) called Cooking with Shook where I teach college students how to cook affordable foods from scratch.
Currently, I am organizing next-year's (Fall 2023) university-wide research symposium, which is known as Krost Symposium. The focus is on food insecurity in Texas and will invite nationally-known regional scholars to campus to discuss hunger in the United States, in Texas, and on college campuses.
Which skills that you learned as an English major do you use most in your job?
Time management, listening and responding to others, synthesizing information, close reading, critical thinking, and clear written communication! Most importantly, to have fun in the classroom.
What additional skills did you need to learn in order to do your job, and how did you learn them?
Budgeting, organizing and leadership, incorporating technology into the classroom, and oral communication skills. Mostly I have learned on the job.
Are there common misconceptions about your career field, which current English majors might share, that you have learned the truth about?
As an undergrad, I thought professors had all the time in the world to read for pleasure. Ha! Read while you can and as much as you can while you’re still in school!
I mostly get to read on winter and summer breaks. During the semester, my reading time is spent reading emails, reading and responding to student papers, prepping for class, reading scholarship, or reading miscellaneous university documents.
In what ways does your career enrich your life and help you to achieve your personal as well as your professional goals?
I have really enjoyed using my teaching and writing in service of others. I absolutely love being outside and gardening, I love helping others, and I love being in community with other folks as we explore & discuss ideas and topics that are important for us.
My favorite teaching moments include watching students organize a food drive and fundraise for their university food pantry (at UNCG), working alongisde students in a community garden (while at TLU), and offering students a chance to learn about, discuss, and explore topics like food insecurity, queerness and faith, the Black Lives Matters movement, and the state-wide attack (in Texas) on critical race theory identity and women’s rights.
I think we need literature because it offers us space for exploration, space to ponder new ways of living, and space for hope while giving us tools to fight for equity for all.
What advice do you have for undergraduate English majors right now who might want to follow the career path you did?
Buckle in! It is an arduous journey, one that makes you feel lucky if you land a tenure-track job. But, enjoy the ride. I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Updated Feb 2023