Assistant Professor, American Politics
Department of Political Science
I grew up in Ft. Smith, AR, where my family still lives. I left the area for college and moved to Seattle, WA, which I still consider a second home. I earned my B.A. in Political Science from Seattle University, which is a small Jesuit university in the heart of the city. After college, I moved around the country for a couple of years before returning to Arkansas to earn my M.A. in political science. I then returned to Seattle to complete my Ph.D. at the University of Washington. While I was working my Ph.D. I was fortunate enough be able to work at my alma mater as an adjunct professor. In 2009, I finished my Ph.D. and was hired by UNCP to start in the fall. I am now starting my fourth year at UNCP.
I made the move to North Carolina with my two kids, Stevie and Elliott, my husband Cory, and our dog Lucy.
My areas of scholarly interest are the way the Supreme Court and Congress influence problem definition. Particularly, how decisions from the Court influences how Congress thinks about problems. I have also spent a lot of time researching women in politics. For instance, I have presented conference papers explaining how the Supreme Court defined sexual harassment has heavily influenced how the Congress as understood sexual harassment. I am currently working on a project to better understand how attorney's use professional online social networking tools and how these practices might influence the process of the courts developing and articulating problem definitions later in the court process. This project is based upon a survey to 1,200 attorneys in five states (Arkansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington), which is currently deployed.
What have you learned while teaching at UNCP?
I have learned that a good sense of humor goes a long way. I demand a lot from my students and to help take off the pressure, I always try to have a smile and a joke or a positive comment to get class going. I try to have an informal lecture style and to make sure that students are engaged. I find that this collegial approach gets my students to work harder on the course material because they are engaged both intellectually and personally. I have also grown as an advisor. Before UNCP, I had students who asked me informally for advice, but now I'm responsible for helping students get through the political science degree program in a way that will help them attain their life goals. I have found that this process can be very rewarding. I get to hear about students' life dreams and help them to get on a path to achieve those.
What do students like best about your class?
I think students like the passion for political science I bring to the classroom and my pedagogical bias for an active learning teaching style. I emphasize why information is important for students' daily lives in my American National Government courses and supplement theories with examples found in current events. My lectures are a mix of formal theoretical discussions and more colloquial discussions, which brings the material to life for many students. In my upper division courses, I emphasize practical application skills as we work through the material. For instance, I emphasize the kinds of critical case analysis needed to be successful in law school in my constitutional law courses, and in my legislative process course, students participate in a congressional simulation where they have to develop skills including: persuasion techniques, coalition building, public speaking, and writing committee reports.
Some students may get to know me in other ways besides in the classroom or as their advisor. I am also the advisor for political science internships, Pi Sigma Alpha, the Political Science Honor Society, and for the UNCP College Republicans. Others may have seen me passing out the Pocket Constitution on Constitution Day. If any student would like to take political science internship credit, join PSA or CR, or get involved in Constitution Day, I would love for them to stop by my office hours or send me an email email@example.com.