This is my third year teaching at the College.
What were you doing before coming to CofC?
I was at the University of Virginia (UVA) as a graduate student before coming to the College. And before that I was a middle school teacher in Cincinnati.
Where did you study and what inspired you to study sociology and become a professor?
I did my undergraduate work at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and my graduate work at UVA. I guess two things inspired me to study sociology and become a professor. First, my parents always encouraged me to think about external forces that impacted the lives of people like amounts of wealth and education, local job opportunities, and cultural expectations (they didn’t use those exact terms when I was a kid, though). I carried this way of thinking into my first job as a middle school teacher in a poor area of Cincinnati. While teaching I saw firsthand how community, family, law enforcement, labor market, and political circumstances affect the opportunity kids have in school and their levels of success in life. It made me curious and I wanted to study these issues in more detail. I realized I could do this and still teach if I became a college professor. So here I am.
Are you involved in any research at the moment? If so, what is it about?
I am involved in a few projects at the moment. One research project looks at whether police, metal detectors, and security cameras reduce crime in school and students’ experiences of mistreatment at the hands of classmates. Another research project looks at how the Internet reduces discrepancies in political awareness and participation between affluent and underprivileged Americans.
What is your favorite class to teach?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I like teaching all of my classes since each course offers something really cool and rewarding. But I’m not going to take the easy way out and stop there, so I’ll choose one. I’d have to say that my favorite class to teach is social statistics because I think it provides tangible and invaluable skills and knowledge for students that they can use for the rest of the lives. Plus, I think it is an incredibly interesting subject because of what analysis of numerical information can tell us about the world we live in. It’s fun convincing students of this, too.
What was your favorite class when you were in school?
My three favorite classes when I was in school were social studies (shocking, right?), science, and art classes.
Do you have any advice for current or prospective students?
I’m surprised by how many of my students think that they need to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives while they’re in college, and that if they choose a certain path now that it will dictate the rest of their future and they won’t be able to change course. This just isn’t true. Follow your instincts, think about what you value, don’t be afraid, and pick a path. If it ends up not being the right path, then change what you do. There will be plenty of opportunities to do so as your life unfolds. Nobody knows what they want to do with the rest of their lives when they’re in college. And that’s okay.
What do you like most about CofC?
A lot of things, but it’s definitely the people that I like the most. Who you work with and teach matters so much, and my colleagues and students are great, down-to-earth, good people. I think there’s something in the water in Charleston.
What do you like to do outside of teaching? Any hobbies/interests?
I like to run, watch movies, and read mysteries. And go to good restaurants when my wallet allows for it. Oh, and the beach, anything to do with the beach.
What is your favorite book or are you reading anything interesting?
To Kill a Mockingbird. I also love reading a good mystery novel. I’m currently working my way through the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly.
What is your favorite food?
A perfectly cooked steak with a glass of sturdy red wine.
If you could have dinner with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Where is your favorite place on earth- vacation spot, writing/reading corner, etc.?
Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.