Hmmmm….well, for starters, I was, and still am, a professional technical writer. I spent years practicing the art and craft of techcomm (my abbreviation for the field) in a variety of workplace settings. The first thing I ever wrote were missile repair manuals for the US Army. I also spent quite a few years as a consultant and one of my long-term client/partners was a Internet solutions firm that specialized in custom Web applications. I did quite a bit of work in usability and user experience, health and medicine and environmental science. That means, I have a whole lot of professional experience. I still manage to squeeze in some short term consulting projects to keep my skills sharp and to gather information about current practices to bring back to the courses I teach and the Professional Writing program as a whole.
Beyond my practical, hands-on, words in the trenches experience, I spent a few years in school learning theories of writing. After a sufficient amount of time reading and writing, the powers that be at the University of South Carolina decided to award me a doctoral degree in Rhetoric with a specialization in technical communication. (Like many of us, my degree is actually in English with a couple of semi-colons. I have a tendency to leave that English part out because folks will immediately think I’m going to correct their grammar or they want to start talking about some great works of literature. No offense to Melville, but I’ve never read Moby Dick, or many of the “great works,” and I’m looking comma rules right along with you!)
That’s the short version.
As far as who I am? My last name says a lot about me: I’m Cajun. I grew up on the border of Texas and Louisiana not far from the Gulf Coast, the youngest child of a working class family. I have a big, boisterous, straight talking, story telling, eating, drinking, laughing, crying, cussing, Catholic family. All of those things have marked me in significant ways and directly impact who I am and how I teach and how I approach this job.
And we like to watch the tree grow. The tree you see on the home page is the tree that sits in my front yard back in Texas. It doesn’t look like that now because, as the two arborists said (one from A&M and one from UT), “all living things eventually die.” But the tree is symbolic for me as it is for most Cajuns. So the picture here is of more trees on the property back home.
The academic job market is a rather strange experience. Most faculty move to where the job is, and that is definitely the case with me. When I spoke to a group of new faculty two years ago, I asked them to raise their hand if they had chosen Cincinnati. There was laughter through the room, but the interesting thing is the town is manageable and it comes with a host of big city amenities. It’s a great foodie town with a growing craft beer scene. I tell you these things because eating and drinking is a cultural experience for Cajuns so it’s great I can continue those things here.
When I was little because I was the youngest, no one every really corrected how I talked. So that meant when I entered kindergarten no one outside my family could actually understand me. That led to 9 years of speech lessons, which pretty much eradicated my accent. But since I lived for many years in the south (a lot time in the Carolinas and Georgia), I picked up some nuances of those accents. So the students here know that I’m not from here. After I tell them a little bit about my background, they started to consistently tease me that the reason I live across the border in Kentucky is so I can still tell people that I live in the South. I’ve found this comforting because I appreciate that they they feel comfortable enough in my class to say these things and in some ways, they are probably right. There is a something about maintaining a connection to place that means a lot.
I am slightly sports obsessed, which means in my spare time I am often watching sports on TV or on the Internet.
An interesting factoid that most people don’t know about me is that I collect limited editions of Dr. Martens. Those are MIE’s.