I am a graduate teaching fellow and PhD candidate in literary and cultural studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. As an instructor, researcher and student, I focus primarily on Victorian, transatlantic, fantasy and children's literature, although my research interests are even more varied and stretch to include gender, composition, modernist and animal studies. Although I spend part of my time at Duquesne continuing my education, my most rewarding experiences come from my time as an instructor and writing center consultant. I have spent the past year instructing first-year students in their core English classes, where I used both classic texts and young adult fiction to help engage all of my students. The students used these works of literature to untangle the relationship between fantasy and reality, while also honing their writing, critical thinking and research skills for their future classes and eventual careers. I also had the opportunity to work with faculty members, upper and lower classmen and ESL students in the campus' Writing Center. As a consultant, I helped clients to revise and proofread their work while also helping them to learn how to use the writing skills for themselves.
Previous to my acceptance at Duquesne University, I earned my Master of Arts in critical and cultural studies at the University of Pittsburgh. As a student at Pitt, I worked as a graduate student researcher with the Learning Research and Development Center. At this prestigious institution, I had the opportunity to learn and gain exposure to the Center's plethora of educational research, in addition to acting as a teaching assistant, proofreader and researcher. While I completed my master's degree, I also worked with numerous students on the critical reading and writing portions of the SAT, although I also frequently worked with students on college entrance essays and classwork. I began my post-secondary education by completing my Bachelor of Arts in English with a secondary education certification at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. I also graduated magna cum laude and I earned minors in biology and psychology.
Although my time in the PhD program gives me ample opportunities to both instruct and learn, I have found myself eager to use even more of my free time to share my love of knowledge with others and learn more along the way. I have a deep passion for knowledge and discovery and firmly believe that they hold the keys to success for all individuals. My enthusiasm and ability to adapt to different individuals' needs allow me to make a connection with all of my clients and help them to not only meet their goals, but to enjoy the process along the way. I enter into all of my client interactions with the goal that I will always bring about a positive effect, which I accomplish by personalizing the sessions for each and every client and working to empower each client with the skills necessary for success and not just the correct answers.
I have always loved learning; however, I have many other interests that supplement my professional life. I am a devoted wife to my husband of almost a year and devoted mother to our two Siberian huskies, Isa and Bogie. As a family, we love to spend our free time traveling, sight-seeing, hiking and visiting our extended families. We particularly enjoy visiting museums that focus on Ancient Egypt, paleontology, natural history, WWII, the Titanic and the Victorian Era. We are also passionate about animals and make conservation a large part of our travels, especially by helping with zoo and aquarium education efforts. When I am not enjoying the company of my family though, I read anything and everything that I can and enjoy dancing and playing the violin. Finally, as a true Pittsburgher, I am always rooting on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pirates and Steelers.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: Saint Vincent College - Bachelors, English
Graduate Degree: University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus - Masters, English
reading, hanging out with my husband and family, hiking, playing with my huskies, traveling, sight-seeing, watching the Pens, Pirates and Steelers, visiting zoos and Victorian mansions, playing the violin, and dancing
High School English
Study Skills and Organization
What is your teaching philosophy?
I believe that each client's learning style is different and that an instructor's methods should be as personalized as possible for each individual student. I also believe that students should have ownership over their work. Instead of stating what is the "right" way to do something or simply giving students the answers, I focus my instruction on acting as a scaffold for the students so that I can slowly remove my support as they build their own foundations. Finally, I believe that education should be interesting and relevant for clients of all ages. As a result, I strive to keep my methods and examples current and relatable.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
In a first session with a student, I usually take some of the session time to get to know the student and note what instructional methods work for the student, the student's interests and what the student hopes to accomplish. I can then use this information to work with the student and set up a plan of action and reasonable goals for us to meet. Discussing the student's learning style and interests also help me to establish a more personalized plan. Finally, I find it helpful to have the student complete a short assessment so that we have a benchmark to measure his or her improvement.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
I have two key methods for helping students to become independent learners. First, I consistently model how I complete work and signpost the methods and techniques I'm using so that students can begin to use these processes themselves. I also use a scaffolding method throughout instruction so that I can provide full support initially, but slowly remove my support and allow the students to become more and more independent as they get more comfortable with the material.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
Setting up smaller and more manageable goals on the way to the ultimate goal helps to keep students motivated. I also incorporate the students' interests and topics that the students are invested in to help the sessions remain relevant, relatable and engaging. I also encourage students by pointing out what they are doing right, even if they haven't mastered all of the material yet or got the wrong answer for a practice question. Learning isn't always displayed just by getting the right answer. Learning the process of getting to the right answer is just as important as getting the right answer.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
There is no such thing as a student that cannot learn. If a student is having difficulty mastering a topic that simply means that my method of instruction isn't quite right for this particular student. Instead, I will work through other methods of instruction until I find one that clicks.