As a scholar and teacher, I am committed to meeting diverse students where they are, fostering an environment of mutual support that honors multiple perspectives, creating curriculum that highlights marginalized ethnic, religious, and racial communities, and building intercultural competence among students.
My teaching, service, and scholarship are dedicated to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am committed to meeting diverse students where they are, fostering an environment of mutual support that honors multiple perspectives, creating curriculum that highlights marginalized ethnic, racial, and religious communities, and building intercultural competences among students.
Prior to beginning doctoral work, as a research and outreach coordinator at an environmental non-profit, I worked with Native American communities in Montana to manage natural resources. Recognizing the ways in which land management policies have been implicated in colonialism, I strived to listen, rather than approach the community with preconceived solutions. I met with tribal members to build management plans that answered Native concerns and incorporated traditional ecological knowledge to best facilitate environmental reclamation. As a teacher, I continue to take the same approach with my students by creating spaces where students can feel comfortable sharing their skills, strengths, culture, and backgrounds in class, and then guide them on how to use these to participate in and enrich the curriculum.
My courses are comprised of students from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds, including second-career, ex-military, students with accommodations, and first-generation college students. These different population groups come to class with different expectations and values. With this diversity of learners in mind, it is always my goal to create an inclusive and equitable learning environment and reach students in ways that work best for them. I employ a variety of assessment methods and vary the manner in which I present material throughout each course. We work in small groups, complete silent writing activities, write common questions on the board, and hold mock debates. I always make time to meet with students individually throughout the semester to provide personalized guidance and to direct students to additional campus resources. Over the course of the semester I observe how the students interact with each other and the material, and adapt my teaching methodologies to what I see works best. For example, in Religion in Native North America my students benefited from brief lectures on the historical context of the day’s discussion, but some of my students were poor note takers. To facilitate note taking and prompt the following discussion, I provided handouts with headings for students to follow along. As the semester progressed, I assigned student discussion leaders, who were also responsible for providing brief contextual comments and discussion handouts. After they had become comfortable with the format, this gave students greater responsibility as co-creators of knowledge and understanding.
In all of my courses, I model and engender interpersonal awareness and guide students to acknowledge, challenge, and engage a range of perspectives of historical actors and modern scholars. American studies courses often tackle difficult questions regarding violence, suffering, and ethnic tension. In addition, these courses often offer students their first encounter with the diversity and internal disagreement of American experiences in history and in the present. It is important to offer students a safe, open, and hospitable space to develop their own critical voices. For example, in my course American Gods, we examined the social consequences of master narratives and the erasure of minority voices. Students reflected on preconceived assumptions and through the careful study of diverse texts, practices, and living actors, were able to reflect on their own interpretations of what it means to be American. As in my scholarship and service, my teaching is dedicated to social action. I strive to make visible complex structures of power and layered aspects of systemic oppression.
When crafting my syllabi, I select primary and secondary sources from diverse voices and encourage my students to contextualize the biases and angles presented in the material. For example, in Religion/Race/ America I foregrounded minority voices and actively engaged students in the disruption of hegemonic narratives of the United States. And in the 12-credit semester-long American Culture Program I designed, I privileged Indigenous voices. We read journal articles, but also novels, poetry, and popular press pieces. In the syllabi I noted the Indigenous community the author is from and asked discussion leaders to briefly present on the history, art, and culture of the community. By understanding the perspective from which authors write, students begin to understand their own positionality. By thoughtfully integrating multiple voices and identities into the curriculum, I encourage my students to think critically about difference and their location in the context of cultural diversity.
In addition to privileging diverse voices for in-class activities and readings, I am also committed to community-based learning. In Religion in a Global Context at Elon University, my 30 first-year undergraduates were responsible for visiting diverse houses of worship, meeting with practitioners and leaders within the community, and reflecting on their experiences both in writing and in oral presentations. As part of the American Culture Program at Randolph, I organized 14 different guest speakers, including Tribal leaders and activists, attorneys from the Native American Rights Fund, filmmakers, artists, and scholars. In addition, we took multiple field trips to visit Indigenous communities in Virginia, as well as a week-long trip to Utah. In both courses, students participated in the creation of community partnerships, which served to enhance student learning, understanding of the community, and sense of civic agency.
It is of upmost importance in my teaching and service to practice an inclusive pedagogy and participate in the creation of an open and supportive campus. I completed Safe Space training in support of LGBTQ+ students and am a faculty member of Randolph’s LGBTQ+ student organization, Bridges. In addition to completing a teaching certificate at Duke, which foregrounded strategies to create an equitable classroom, I also participated in a two-day faculty workshop at Randolph reflecting on incorporating social justice education into curriculum and campus.
As a pre-major advisor for fifteen first and second-year students at Randolph, I strive to create a safe and welcoming environment for all students as they join the college. I practice a holistic and culturally responsive advising strategy, by recognizing the various challenges and complex dynamics experienced by my diverse students. I strive to ensure students receive the academic, financial, social, and personal support they need to succeed. The first week of school I require a face-to-face meeting, where I ask open-ended questions to draw out student interests and goals, concerns and questions. Through regular meetings and e-mail check-ins, I help students formulate a vision of what they might become and we work together to devise concrete, incremental, and achievable goals. I affirm successes and offer support and reflection when they stumble.
My scholarship is deeply tied to my commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion in teaching and service. The content focuses on strength-based narratives of marginalized communities to negotiate and claim spaces of their own making in the American West. Methodologically, I utilize a culturally centered approach to fieldwork that privileges community-specific theories and knowledge. Interdisciplinary at its core, my research seeks to complicate traditional academic boundaries and analyze the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, religion, nationalism, and inequality in the construction of American life.
I have experience working with a variety of underrepresented student populations and diverse learners, am dedicated to incorporating intercultural exchange and diversity into my curriculum and scholarship, and strive to nurture a safe and open learning environment. As a teacher, scholar, and citizen, it is my mission to prepare students to be enlightened leaders within a diverse world.