Associate Professor and Director of Instructional Excellence & Innovation
Washington State University Tri-Cities
1996 Ford Taurus. She was old even then, but she was great.
Favorite Tri-City restaurant?
So many to choose from! But perhaps Frost Me Sweet has the edge for having great food and delectable desserts.
Most disliked food?
This is very divisive, but it's cilantro. I have the gene that makes it taste like soap!
First thing you check on your phone?
Family group chat with mom and siblings!
Current city of residence: Richland
How long have you lived in the Tri-Cities? 9 years
Briefly describe your company:
Washington State University is a public land-grant research university that is committed to the principles of practical education for all, scholarly inquiry that benefits society, and the sharing of expertise to positively impact the state and communities. Our WSU Tri-Cities enrolls more than 1,500 students who can choose from among 50-plus academic programs, many of them in STEM-related disciplines. And starting in 2024, we will begin offering degrees in social work to fill high-demand jobs that will help bolster the region's mental health workforce!
How long have you worked there? 8 years
Education: Please list any degrees and professional certifications.
Bachelor of Science with majors in psychology and human development, with a minor in business.
Master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology.
Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology.
Briefly describe your job and how you got into it:
Being a professor came from a mix of both luck and preparation. The only reason I was able to attend college was because I received an athletic scholarship. But as a first-generation college student, I was a bit lost once I got there. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and certainly had no idea about graduate school. However, I'm a naturally curious person and through my enthusiasm and hard work, I started thriving in my classes. Luckily, I had some amazing professors who noticed my earnest drive for learning and they mentored me through the process of preparing for and applying to doctoral programs in my field. But what really got me into teaching (and the love of teaching!) was the first time I stepped in front of a class as a teaching assistant. I was scared to give that first lecture, but it was also thrilling and delightful. I've never looked back.
Now that I am a faculty member at WSU Tri-Cities, part of my job is likely what you picture when you think of a professor - I teach statistics and research methods courses to undergraduate college students. I love teaching these courses because even though they are challenging and many students face them with at least some trepidation, I get a lot of joy from showing students that these classes are not only useful, they are fun!
In the other part of my job, I serve as the director of teaching and learning on our campus, which means I get to help other faculty develop their teaching skills through professional learning, instructional design and innovative programs. It's along the lines of teaching the teachers, though it's more mentoring and coaching than teaching.
How did you earn your first dollar?
Scooping ice cream! It was the summer before my freshman year of college and even with my scholarship covering the main costs, my family couldn't afford the computer I needed. So I got a job flexible enough to allow me to train in the mornings and work in the afternoons/evenings.
Honestly, it was such a fun job! Families coming in to celebrate milestones, people on first dates and anniversaries, teams celebrating victory or commiserating over defeat. I had a lot of fun at that job, and I've never forgotten the lessons I learned.
What advice would you give to your younger self about achieving success?
I would have told myself that there is no singular path for success: it's not a ladder or even linear, but a series of choices we make day in and day out. And as long as I am making decisions that align with my values, I will end up where I want to be with people I want to be with.
What was your dream job as a child?
So many! In order from my earliest memories to current job: marine biologist, forensic scientist, elementary school teacher, lawyer/judge, business consultant for leadership development and employee engagement, college professor.
What would make our community a better place to live?
We live in a wonderful area - full of outdoor adventures, engaged citizens, and family-friendly parks. But no place is perfect and creating a better place to live requires collective effort - each and every one of us contributing to the greater good. So along those lines, I'd love to see active participation and involvement in community events and increased civic engagement.
What would be your top 3 priorities to make our community a better place?
So many to choose from! But here are three that feel salient to me right now:
Enhance educational and job opportunities: As an educator, one priority is to collaborate with schools and educational institutions to improve educational opportunities from elementary through adulthood. We can encourage lifelong learning and support initiatives that address the needs of all students, including those with diverse backgrounds or special requirements. We also need to focus on developing educational, community, and career partnerships that facilitate workforce readiness.
Support local businesses: I love many of our local shops and wish there were more! Thus, one priority is to promote initiatives that attract investment and provide training and resources for small business owners. As consumers, we have the power to buy local and support our neighbors.
Foster inclusive neighborhoods: The Tri-Cities has so much to offer and many of our citizens have broad life experiences from which we can all learn and benefit. We should embrace diversity and inclusivity by promoting respect, tolerance, and understanding among residents. We can organize and attend cultural events, celebrations, and educational programs that promote intercultural exchange.
If you had unlimited time, what volunteer work would you be interested in doing?
I have a lot of passion for helping serve as a catalyst for local, nonprofit organizations. With my background in statistics and research methods, I would love to work with organizations to help analyze their data, write grants, or create data-driven solutions to the issues they face.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
I don't know if I do (yet). I have young children and a demanding job. But in general, my strategy for juggling the competing demands is to know which demands are glass (and will break if I drop them) and which are rubber (and will bounce back if I drop them).
Sometimes that means I sacrifice clearing out my email so I can watch a soccer practice and sometimes that means I sacrifice a school pick-up so I can meet an important deadline. Not all responsibilities carry the same weight, so I try to prioritize the ones that matter the most (we eat together as a family and talk about our day, every day) and let go of the smaller things.
It's hard and sometimes I miscalculate, but I think on the whole, I'm getting there.
Do you have family? Pets?
I have a husband and two kids (ages 1 and 6), but no pets! I'm also lucky enough to have a huge, loving family full of siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
What brought you to the Tri-Cities? Did you grow up here?
I came to Tri-Cities for my job at WSU! I didn't grow up here, but I did grow up in the Pacific Northwest (shout out to Colbert, Washington!)
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