My own story is inextricably tied to my approach to teaching.
As I detailed in the opening remarks of my dissertation defense, things like this are not supposed to happen to people like me. I am the daughter of two working-class parents from a sleepy town in Mississippi, and as a teenager, I experienced significant loss on a level that most do not encounter until adulthood. My father died when I was sixteen years old after a long-term debilitating illness, and exactly one year later, Hurricane Katrina destroyed my hometown. In addition to these hardships, I struggled significantly with standardized testing, rendering me ineligible for undergraduate scholarships.
These circumstances predetermined how I would perform in college, and I received one of many lessons in the domino effect that inequity and exclusion engender in higher education. When my mother lost her job in the Recession, I took on supporting the both of us financially. Burned out from working four to five part-time jobs, it was no surprise that even though I had an intense desire to learn and an intellectual curiosity to match, my scholastic achievements were mediocre.
When I pursued my master’s at the University of Massachusetts Boston, however, the tide changed. Studying under talented researchers who were also dedicated pedagogues, I learned how to become an empathic college-level instructor. I meet students where they are to foster intellectual curiosity, and my classroom is characterized by inclusive teaching methods, scaffolded course design, and rubrics built on equity and accessibility. My approach is built upon the principles of Teaching for Transfer (TFT), a method that pedagogy theorists have linked to the foundation of learning and applied knowledge.
My lived experience as a low-income, first-generation student has shaped the way I establish rapport with my students and peers. Furthermore, I am particularly adept at helping traditionally under-represented students (e.g., women, BIPOC, LatinX, first-gen, and LGBTQ+) overcome their imposter syndrome. I have a strong record of producing capable, confident writers and thinkers, a skill that I have honed not only at Rice as a doctoral candidate, but also at UMass Boston while I finished my master’s degree.
I care deeply and passionately about teaching, and it is my goal to not only cultivate an environment of belonging in my classroom, but also instill confidence in my students that allows them to take ownership of their ideas and trust their intellectual instincts.