Position Title: Associate Professor and Department Head
Area of Study: American Literature and Film Studies
What motivates you about your chosen field?
The majority of my research is in war literature and film, specifically the Vietnam and Gulf Wars as well as Afghanistan. I am consistently looking for ways to bring my research endeavors not only into my classrooms but also into the communities at large.
Why did you choose to teach at SDSU?
I am a South Dakota native (Mitchell), and I attended SDSU from 1990-94 (BA in English Education) and again from 1996-98 (MA in English). When I finished my Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, I pursued a Visiting Assistant Professor position here, and the position turned into a tenure track the following year. I have always felt that SDSU is an excellent university, and I am glad to be a part of its community. I'm also glad to be here during this important time of change at the university.
What have been some of your greatest accomplishments while at State?
I consider my teaching to be my greatest accomplishment - almost everything I do has some connection to the classes I teach. I am restless when it comes to preparing for classes. I am not satisfied with my efforts unless I put myself and the class in a position to have an outstanding class session time after time. I am most proud of this, hands down. I am also very proud of my outreach work with the Sioux Falls VA Hospital, for which I am in my second year of facilitating the Literature and Medicine Program for the hospital staff. In this program, I work with the staff on ways to use literature and film to address issues that our veterans face in their day-to-day lives. I am also proud to have been recognized as the recipient for the 30th Annual Victor Webster award in 2010 - the award recognizes excellence in teaching, scholarship, and service, and I was nominated for it by my peers, largely based on my work with war literature and film.
What do you enjoy most about SDSU?
My colleagues and my students - great community of people in which to live and work. It's actually fun coming to work each and every day!
What piece of advice would you give new students?
Don't underestimate how important it is to keep up with reading and other coursework. University classes often move very quickly, and falling behind is a difficult thing from which to recover. Keep your options open: One may "know" what his or her major is from the very first moment arriving on campus; however, one always needs to remember that nothing is set in stone, and that taking a class or two outside of one's area can - and often does - have a lasting impact on that person's intellectual life.