Tag Archives: Faculty Profile

Faculty Profile: Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker

Dr. Tatiana Nekrasova-Beker is currently teaching graduate courses in the TEFL/TESL program and working with INTO-CSU to help support students in the Pathway program. Tatiana received both her M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics from Georgia State University and Northern Arizona University, respectively. Her research interests include usage-based approaches to L2 acquisition, the role of formulaic language in fluency and syntactic development, interactionist approaches to SLA, project-based methods in L2 instruction, and corpus-based analyses of ESP texts. When she is not working, Tatiana likes to travel (AKA attend conferences), go hiking with her husband Tony and their son Mikhael, and do yoga.


How would you describe your work in the English Department?
Very satisfying. I love being in academia and working with students. The grading part is not my favorite, but it is important, too.

What brought you to CSU?
My husband. He started his new position at CSU, so we moved to Fort Collins a few years ago. When a new position in the English department opened up, I felt it was meant to be…

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I like seeing students become excited about their profession, their projects and future prospects.


Why do you think English and the Humanities are important? They help you to understand life in a larger context.


When I was about to submit my college application and could not decide between Chemistry and Philology (Literature + Language), my high school Biology teacher told me this: When you study Literature, each year you feel you expand in what you know in many areas that are related yet different. That helps you to get a more holistic picture of the world you live in and you can talk to people about that. When you study Biology (or Chemistry), you expand your knowledge about a specific topic within the discipline. My teacher was studying rats and their behaviors. As she said, nobody wanted to talk about rats at parties.

What inspired you to pursue a degree in English and teaching?
My very first English teacher. She was sophisticated and very kind, and I liked hearing her British accent.

What had the greatest influence on your career path?
My professors and mentors from Northern Arizona University. I look up to them and hope to be as good as they are one day.

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Tatiana with her dissertation co-director and mentor, NAU professor Joan Jamieson

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
Up until I turned 10, I wanted to be a singer or an actress. At 10, when I started learning English in school, I decided that I would be an English teacher.

Can you describe your experience at CSU so far? What do you want to accomplish while you’re here?
My experiences have been very positive. Since the very first summer we came to Fort Collins, colleagues in the department have been extremely supportive and welcoming. It felt nice to have people around who care about your well-being, remember your birthday, and are always happy to help. While I am at CSU, I am hoping to help the TEFL/TESL program grow.


What is your favorite thing about teaching what you teach? The topics we discuss in my classes are complex, but have direct practical applications. I like both – the complexity (as it exercises your brain) and the application (which helps you to stay level-headed).


What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
One of my mentors gave me professional advice: Do not do (or publish) sloppy work. It is a waste of time.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Being able to build a life in a foreign country.

What is the last great piece of writing you read? What are you currently reading?
I just finished a co-authored manuscript about the complexity of listening sub-skills. I have read a few great studies with excellent research design, which made them pleasurable reading pieces for me. Outside of academia, I am reading Jo Baker’s Longbourn.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I like to travel, hike, and do yoga.

Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
My family (dad, mom, and my sister). We live so far from each other and don’t get to see each other very often, so I would rather enjoy my dinner with them.

Faculty Profile: Stephanie G’Schwind

Before joining the Center for Literary Publishing, Stephanie G’Schwind worked as a copyeditor at Group Publishing and then as senior production assistant and freelance copyeditor at Indiana University Press. As director of the Center, she is editor of Colorado Review and the Colorado Prize for Poetry Series, and directs an internship that trains graduate-student interns in basic publishing skills.


Describe a typical day at Colorado Review. I answer a LOT of email: from current authors, previous authors, printers, advertisers, subscribers, interns, former interns, colleagues. Every day is different, but the one thing I can count on is answering email. Otherwise, I might read a few submissions, maybe discuss some of them with interns. I might edit a manuscript. I might teach someone how to copyedit or typeset. I might design a book cover or an ad, or teach an intern how to do that. I might send out some contracts.  I might send out fundraising letters (or thank you notes for funds raised). I might write a grant. Generally, my time is divided between publishing and teaching publishing. I love it.

What was the last really great book you read? The Lost Daughter, by Elena Ferrante.

What advice would you give a student who is interested in pursuing literary publishing? How did you become interested in publishing? Do an internship! Then do another internship. And do some research: If you know someone who works in publishing, ask to sit down with them and have a conversation about their experience and see if they have any advice. If you don’t know anyone who works in publishing, ask your parents, aunts/uncles, friends, neighbors, professors if they know someone who might be willing to talk with you.

I was always interested in publishing, but did not, unfortunately, take the advice above. I stumbled into it after graduate school when I took a temp position at Group Publishing in Loveland. My first job was to keyboard manuscripts into a tiny little Mac—manuscripts that had been typed on typewriters. I was so excited—I was working in publishing! After a few weeks, the head of the books department invited me to apply for a position as a copyeditor, and I was hired a couple of weeks later. And that’s how I got into publishing.

What is the best part about your job? Letting an author know I’d like to publish her story/essay/book. I have to say no way too often in this job (and I’m not very good at that), so saying yes feels really great. It also makes me super happy when former interns find jobs they love using some of the skills they’ve learned at the Center.

Who was the last great voice in literature you discovered through your work at Colorado Review? In the most recent issue, Summer 2014, we published a beautiful essay, “Natural Forces,” by Liza Cochran, who writes about depression, addiction, and finding one’s higher power in the natural world. You can read it here.

What would you like to see happen in the next few years in your work?  In May, we published our first nonfiction anthology, Man in the Moon: Essays on Fathers & Fatherhood. Depending on how that sells, I’d like to put together another nonfiction anthology. Maybe one on names and naming? Maybe one on photos and photography? But I’m still catching my breath after the first one!

Faculty Profile: Doug Cloud

Assistant Professor Doug Cloud, Composition Program Faculty: B.S. magna cum laude, Journalism, Ohio University. M.A. and Ph.D., Rhetoric, Carnegie Mellon University.

Professor Cloud teaches courses in rhetorical and composition theory, style, public writing, and argument. His research focuses on the rhetoric of social change, particularly the representation of marginalized group identities in public discourse. His current projects concern the use of identity categories in environmental discourse and the ways that language practices of marginalized groups are adapted and translated for new contexts. His work has appeared in Argumentation and Advocacy and Language in Society. He is a Founding Editor Emeritus at The Silver Tongue, a rhetoric and public affairs blog (www.silvertonguetimes.com).

dougcloudFaculty Profile: Doug Cloud
by Tim Mahoney

This semester, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Doug Cloud, a new addition to the English Department, in his office in Ingersoll Hall, where many of the Liberal Arts faculty have moved while Eddy is being renovated. I am currently taking his Principles of Writing and Rhetoric course, and although I see him every Tuesday and Thursday, it was a nice change of pace to speak with him about his research and work.


What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Lev Grossman’s Magician series. They are kind of like a grown up Harry Potter, but that’s an oversimplification. I recently finished Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy. That was one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. I’m also reading Stephen King’s hard-boiled novel Mr. Mercedes, which is his first novel of the kind. After reading it, you will never look at ice cream trucks the same way.

Tell me about your education.

I earned my undergraduate degree in journalism from Ohio University. I really enjoyed studying journalism because I loved the process of tracking down facts and sources, and compiling everything into a piece of writing. Despite my love for the subject, I was unsure if I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. There is a stigma about journalists now, a certain distrust people have when meeting journalists. Luckily, I had a mentor in the English Department who suggested I give rhetoric and composition a try — he suggested Carnegie Mellon. I hadn’t been in the English Department as an undergrad, but took a creative writing course and loved it; it was fascinating to see how differently people approached writing. That experience definitely helped inspire me to earn my graduate degree, and Ph.D. in rhetoric and composition. I actually wasn’t sure that I wanted a Ph.D., but once I started as a graduate teacher at Carnegie Mellon, and got into the classroom setting, I knew teaching was for me.

What brought you to CSU?

This is a great school. Fort Collins is a friendly town, and people seem to like each other a lot here. Back in the East, people don’t like it if you slow them down or get in their way, but the people here are more relaxed.

What are you teaching?

Currently I am teaching E305-Principles of Writing and Rhetoric, and CO401-Writing and Style.


What is your favorite part about your job? If I’m to be one hundred percent honest, it’s talking and working with students. I know it sounds like the perfect answer, but it’s honestly what I enjoy the most.


What other work do you do besides teach at CSU?

There is a teaching, research, and service aspect of being a professor. Currently, I am researching the rhetoric of social change; looking at the ways in which certain marginalized groups use rhetoric to change public discourse. I have been working on an article for Argumentation and Advocacy analyzing the rhetorical techniques of the marriage equality debate. I specialize in the rhetoric of social change, so I’ve been looking back at Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and analyzing the changes in public discourse. Investigating past rhetorical issues is like looking at ice-core samples of public discourse.


Why do you think it is important to study English, or the Humanities for that matter? I think most of the problems facing humanity are not technical; that is, we don’t face many issues that we can’t find technological solutions to. Our weakness isn’t finding solutions to problems, but getting everyone to agree on a single, or set of solutions. We aren’t good at shared decision making because we live in a society where face to face communication is impractical; we can’t get everyone in a town hall meeting to agree on a course of action. It’s hard to solve the global issues facing humanity because we just don’t see the consequences of our shared decision making, which often have far reaching, but unforeseen implications. People are more alike than we are different, and by studying the humanities, we attempt to reconcile our values and our actions, and tackle the ideological problems of our society, and our world.

What is something that not everyone knows about you?

Well, I am a Lego enthusiast. I really like working on large, complicated builds. I’m an avid runner. And I can also insert a pop-culture reference into almost any situation.

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What’s the best advice you have ever received?

Someone once told me that “Life is about learning how to like people.” I really liked that and it has stuck with me.

Faculty Profile: Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy is author of Smith Blue (Southern Illinois University Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Crab Orchard Open Book Prize, Suck on the Marrow (Red Hen Press, 2010), and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison (Red Hen Press, 2006).

Dungy is editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great (Persea, 2009), and assistant editor of Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). Dungy has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, Cave Canem, the Dana Award, and Bread Loaf.

She is a two-time recipient of the Northern California Book Award (2010 and 2011), a Silver Medal Winner in the California Book Award (2011), and a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee (2010 and 2011). She was a 2011 finalist for the Balcones Prize, and her books have been shortlisted for the 2011 Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Award, the PEN Center USA 2007 Literary Award, and the Library of Virginia 2007 Literary Award. Recently a Professor in the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University, Dungy is now a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University. Her poems and essays have been published widely in anthologies and print and online journals.

~Bio excerpted from Camille Dungy’s website

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Faculty Profile: Camille Dungy
by Denise Jarrott

How would you describe your work in the English Department?
I teach creative writing and literature classes, mostly focusing on poetry. Right now I’m teaching a poetry writing workshop and a course on Recent US Poetry. Over the course of the semester, seven poets will visit our class either in person or via teleconference. We’re all looking forward to the chance to speak directly with some of today’s hottest authors.

What brought you to CSU?
I am excited about the university’s commitment to serving the students of the state of Colorado. I’ve been away a long time, but I’m actually a Colorado native, and I am happy to be a part of keeping this a vibrant place. I am also thrilled by the engagement of so many of my colleagues in questions directly related to the environment and sustainability as well as history, family, and great literature.

What do you enjoy most about your work?
I am happy every day that I am able to wake up and think about what I love best: good writing.


Why do you think English and the Humanities are important?  English and the Humanities teach us to think critically, to read carefully (and not only text on the page), and engage empathy. In short, English and the Humanities help form the rudimentary components of engaged citizenship.


What inspired you to pursue a degree in English and teaching?
Why not do what I love?

What had the greatest influence on your career path?
I was raised in a house that valued books, that valued education, and that valued compassion. My education also supported these interests, and so here I am, passing those values along.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?
A writer. (And also a doctor and a piano player and an athlete and probably a lot of other things. Good thing all those pursuits, which require focus and practice and attention to detail, supported my main goal of learning how to be a better writer).

Describe your experience on your recent sabbatical and how you will bring what you learned during that time to CSU.
I did take a leave last semester to write, and I traveled to Alaska, California, London, Paris, and Seattle in pursuit of my subjects. The love of travel, the engagement with a world that is larger than our neighborhoods (but also amazingly smaller: I met a woman in Barrow, Alaska who had met her husband at restaurant 2 blocks from the restaurant where I met my husband, and when I was in Paris I had lunch with a friend from the States) helps me to read the world better. Reading the world better helps me read books better. Reading books better helps me write and teach books better.

What moment in the classroom stands out as most memorable?
I have been teaching full time since 1997. If I had one most memorable moment it would diminish the many other wonderful (and sometime challenging) moments I’ve had in all those years in the classroom.

What is your favorite thing about teaching?
I love talking about what I love to people who are open to the possibility of learning new things about themselves and the world.


What advice would you give a student taking classes in the English department?  Be open to the possibility of learning new things about yourself and the world.


What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
As a person who is open to learning new things about myself and the world, I get advice all the time. I’ve to categorize this advice in terms of its relevance to me, but I’ve also learned to revisit advice because things that don’t seem relevant on Day 1 might be really useful on Day 121.

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What accomplishments are you most proud of?
I’m raising a daughter who is smart and self assured and kind to others, and that makes me quite proud. I also have published several of my own books and edited anthologies that represent a wide range of voices, and that these words are out of my head (where so many of our ideas linger) and in the world makes me quite proud. But, I don’t tend to dwell too much in pride. Every day is a new day, and each new day requires more writing, more parenting, more living actively in the world.

What is the last great piece of writing you read? What are you currently reading?
I read for a living. I read all the time. Two days ago I would have told you the best book I’ve read recently was the book I read two days ago (The White Pages, by Martha Collins), but yesterday I taught and so reread portions of The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass, which is a book I adore, and tonight I have a stack of books on my desk including Yona Harvey’s Hemming the Water and Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light by Jane Brox, both of which I am really excited about.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I love to cook. I love to be outside, hiking or walking or just being. I love to be with my family. I love to read, which is and is not work for me. I am also turning into a bit of a DIY gal, and have a long list of projects for the house (which may or may not ever get done), including building a cold frame and hanging barn doors in a room that needs a divider.

What is your favorite word and why?
Lathe. Just listen to it. A gorgeous word. It’s round and cylindrical, a word that sounds like what it does. Lathe. I love that word.

Which three people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner?
I just had this conversation with someone! I invited Octavia Butler, one of my all time favorite writers (Parable of the Sower and Kindred are my two favorite books). Also Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley because I am amazed by the mind that invented Frankenstein while pregnant (which, I think, is fascinating enough even without the fact that the book itself is a marvel). And maybe…the third person is always the tricky one…perhaps my maternal grandmother, who I believe would get a kick out of meeting those women and who would be glad to teach them a thing or two and maybe recite some poems.

Faculty Profile: Sue Doe

Associate Professor Sue Doe teaches courses in Composition, Autoethnographic Theory and Method, Research Methods, and Graduate Student Preparation for Writing in the Disciplines. She does research in three distinct areas—academic labor, writing across the curriculum, and student-veteran writing in the post-9/11 era. Coauthor of the faculty development book Concepts and Choices: Meeting the Challenges in Higher Education, she has published articles in College English, College Composition and Communication, and Writing Program Administration as well as several book-length collections.  Her forthcoming collection on student-veterans in the Composition classroom, Generation Vet:  Composition, Veterans, and the Post-911 University, co-authored with Professor Lisa Langstraat, is under contract with the Utah State Press.

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Faculty Profile: Sue Doe
~by Brianna Wilkins

How would you describe your work at CSU?

I work in the Rhetoric and Composition area of the English Department. I’m both the graduate advisor, and the undergraduate writing major director; we rotate positions, and right now I’m doing those two roles. Prior to that when I first came on in my current position in 2007, I was brought in to do gtPathways, which is a writing integration that’s gone on within the entire core curriculum.

What bought you to CSU?

I actually started teaching here several years ago in 1997. I moved here with my family and my husband had a position here with the university, and I started a PhD program at that point. While I was working on my PhD I began teaching a course or two here in the English department. A while after I got my PhD, the department did a national search for a new person in rhetoric and comp, I applied for it, and that’s how I came to be in my current position.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

Right up through my freshman year of college I wanted to be something in the sciences; I loved science; I liked to write, and I imagined that I’d write about science. At that time science writing was just a vague idea; it wasn’t really a path that you could follow in graduate school. I think it was after my first course in chemistry when I thought that maybe I wouldn’t do anything with science (laughs). I was also a musician; I played the piano and I sang, so for a while I thought I was going to be a musician. Early on, both of those things I thought of more so than doing something with English.

What special projects are you working on right now?

My colleague Dr. Lisa Langstraat and I have been working on a longitudinal study of student veterans at CSU, and we’ve been looking at the influx of veterans from our recent wars into universities. There are now 1 million student veterans across the country. We now have an ever increasing number of student veterans on this campus, and we’re also considered a veteran friendly campus. One of the things she and I are doing is to examine the experience of the student veteran from the start of their time at CSU to the end of it, and to examine how their literacy practices change over the course of their transition period, as they move from being in the military to civilian life.

What is your most memorable moment in the classroom?

One of the moments which stands out the most is something I think about a lot. I’m a mother of three, and my first child was born a week before finals. I took him into the final exam, and I will never forget that moment of being in the classroom. My students were at the end of the semester and finishing up the course; at the same time I was starting on something new which was being a mom, and the generosity of those students was amazing. It could have been extremely awkward, but there was no way that I was going to leave behind my one week old baby. I didn’t know what to expect, and maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I couldn’t imagine leaving him behind. It was the most wonderful final exam that anyone could imagine.

What do you do during your free time?

I love to run. I’ve been a runner for about 40 years; there’s nothing like putting on my running sneakers and just going. It’s the best sport in the world because it doesn’t involve any equipment except those shoes so you can do it almost anywhere. And getting out into the elements, regardless of the weather, is not only freeing but empowering. I also love to hang out with my family. I have a grandson who is almost two and lives here in Fort Collins, He is just too funny and reminds me of the wonders of life because he sees everything, from a particle of dust to a dandelion. with fresh eyes. In a few weeks he will have a new baby sister and one of my two other children is also expecting a child. By the end of June, I’ll be a grandmother to three little children and while I initially felt I was too young for this grandma gig, I’ve come to enjoy it, just as everyone said I would!

What is something that your colleagues may not know about you?

I once wrote a speech for Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf

Faculty Profile: Judy Doenges

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Associate Professor Judy Doenges teaches graduate and undergraduate fiction writing workshops and literature courses. She has published a novel, The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. Her short fiction collection, What She Left Me, won a Ferro-Grumley Award, a Washington State Governor’s Writers Award, the Bakeless Prize, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her stories have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Georgia Review, Nimrod, Green Mountains Review, and in several anthologies. Her reviews have appeared in the Washington Post and the Seattle Times. She has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, the Ohio Arts Council, and Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. She recently won a PEN/O. Henry Award.


Faculty Profile: Judy Doenges
~by Brianna Wilkins

What does your work consist of at CSU?

I teach creative writing at the undergraduate and graduate level, and I also teach literature at the undergraduate and graduate level. I like to think that my work also involves inspiring students in some way; making them want to be better writers, and better readers of literature.

What do you enjoy most about teaching?

I can honestly say that the thing I enjoy most is working with students, because I get to meet different students every semester. Sometimes it’s hard because you might not ever see them again, but I get to work with so many different students who have so many different levels of expertise and creativity; it’s really fun to see people change and grow over the course of the semester.

Why are the humanities important?

They make people better, because they are aware of other cultures, other people, and other voices. Humanities allow people to become aware of a world that goes beyond their own immediate experience, and their own upbringing.

Who had an influence on you when you were younger?

I had a teacher in grammar school that encouraged the students to do creative writing, and I really enjoyed it. I remember having to stand up in front of the class and read something that I had written, and everyone clapped for me; the applause made me want to become a writer. I thought that since there was something that I could do that other people would like, then I should become a writer.

What special projects are you working on right now?

I’m working on a novel and I have about eight chapters done; I’m going to finish the rest of it while I’m on sabbatical. I’m also working on some short stories too; everything that I’m working on is fiction.

What advice would you give to CSU English majors?

Approach it with enthusiasm and have an open mind. Think about the wonders that you’ll learn, and the different cultures and people that you’ll read about. You’ll be able to express yourself in ways that other parts of your life may not allow you to.

Who inspires you?

Great writes of the past, and contemporary writers. Just reading work from anyone who is doing something new and different, and making me see something in a different way than before.

Faculty Profile: Cindy O’Donnell-Allen

Associate Professor Cindy O’Donnell-Allen teaches courses in literacy, composition, pedagogy, and adolescents’ literature. Her research explores the ways in which discursive practices serve as tools for collaborative knowledge construction in learning communities. She has published articles and chapters on adolescents’ literary meaning construction in multimedia interpretive texts; the influence of nested contexts on students’ engagement with literature; the relationships among gender, language, and power in school; and the role of relational frameworks in collaborative learning.

Her current research projects include a three-year longitudinal study on the development of a teacher research group into a discourse community and a study of the ways preservice English teachers voluntarily access and construct narratives in the process of learning to teach.

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Faculty Profile: Cindy O’Donnell-Allen
~by Brianna Wilkins

What brought you to CSU?

I had just finished up my PH.D at the University of Oklahoma, and so I applied to several places and had several interviews. When I came here it was actually the most comfortable that I felt in an interview; it was weird because I didn’t get nervous. The people here made me feel so welcomed and I felt like the philosophies I had for teaching really paralleled well with LouAnn Reid’s. She was the only other person in English Education at the time that I came here in 1999, and we just clicked right away. I was pleased to think of the prospect that I might be able to get to work with her on an everyday places. Also this program has a good reputation, and I got to meet students, and all those things made me feel like this was a place that I could be happy.

What advice would you give to a CSU English major?

I would encourage them to take advantage of the incredible expertise that we have in our department. I think it’s easy when you’re a student to just think of the professor as the person who’s making your assignments, requiring you to read things, and grading your papers. But I never cease to be amazed by the national reputation that our professors have in their respective fields. So by figuring out some way to learn who they (professors) are outside of the classroom and professionally, and to engage in conversations with them would be a tremendous asset to student’s experiences while here.

What’s a special project that you’re working on right now?

I am working on a book with Professor Garcia, and it’s developing a theory that we’re working on for teachers; teachers and teacher educators will be the primary audience. We have this theory that you never quite arrive as a teacher, and that you should always be challenging yourself to try something new. We want to write a book that articulates that idea in a way that is also meaningful to students who are studying to be teachers, and for people who are early in their careers. This book has a mixture of critical theory and practical pedagogies, and we decided to write it about a year ago when we figured out that we could not find a book to assign our students that we believed was doing both of those things. So when you can’t find a book that you want students to read, then it means that you should write one for them.

What do you like to do on your free time?

I like to watch basketball, play the piano and cook; I really love to cook. I like to hang out with my family and dog too.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I actually said, “I do not know what I will be in my life, but I will not be a teacher;” I made that proclamation. My parents were teachers, and I just was confident that I wasn’t going to teach, but when I look back I just knew that I loved to create. Whether it was creating music at the piano or writing, I knew it would have to be related to creating something, so that’s why I believe I ended up teaching.

What is your favorite genre of writing?

This really isn’t a genre, but I really love poetry. The first thing that I can remember writing is a poem. I was in the second grade, and there was a boy who had a physical disability. People wouldn’t play with him very often, so I wrote a poem for him and gave it to him on the playground. At a young age I realized that poetry was a way to connect to something deeper, and I’ve always related to it.