You started working at Wesleyan in 2003. What has
impressed you most about the university?
I am impressed with the incredible depth, intelligence and humanity of many
Wesleyan students and my colleagues in the African American Studies Program.
What does 'visiting' instructor refer to? Where are you visiting from and
how did you end up at Wes?
Visiting instructor refers to the fact that my position is non-tenure track
and temporary. As a practical matter, I am visiting from Bowdoin College in
Brunswick, Maine, where I held a pre-doctoral fellowship for two years.
During my final year at Bowdoin, I saw the Wesleyan job advertisement and
jumped at the chance to apply.
students of all ethnic and backgrounds interested in a degree in African
How would you describe it?
The African American Studies Program is strong. Many, many students of all
different backgrounds are interested in an AFAM degree. The program is
interdisciplinary in nature. Course discussions and debates include issues
of economics, globalization, gender, class, politics, cultural and literary
representations among other things. Students learn important content, but
further, I think the program has a profound effect on the ways students
think, how they understand and re-organize the experiences of their world.
What issues would you bring
up in the classroom?
Broadly, I teach courses specializing in
African American education. This includes issues of social inequality, urban
educational policy and the relationship between educational theory and
practice. Most recently, Iíve taught a service-learning course that will
place students in a local middle-school with a focus on the effects of the
No Child Left Behind policy.
What do you hope students take away from your classes?
I would like to think students leave my courses as better critical thinkers
and writers while simultaneously understanding that African Americans have a
complex educational past and sometimes a contradictory educational present.
Q: Do you have
a philosophy about teaching? How do you help students become critical
thinkers in the classroom?
A: I approach
teaching as if I'm telling a story. Stories have a beginning, middle and end
and you can't just jump in at the middle, or only a few students will figure
it out. By giving a full narrative, I try to capture as many students as I
can. I also try, every semester, to show at least one film, have a guest
speaker and let students give their own presentations. Many students request
to to work on a thesis, or are interested in doing independent studies on
Q: Do you enjoy
being in the classroom more so that researching?
A: I love
teaching. I enjoy engaging students, but I can find it to be a real
challenge to teach and find time to spend on my own research. I've been
collecting a lot of data about African American college students at small,
liberal arts universities, that I have to go through. None from Wesleyan,
Where did you go to college and what are
I went to Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania where I majored in
anthropology and sociology and French. Academically speaking, I am a huge
supporter of small liberal arts colleges. Socially, well, thatís another
On campus, have you attended many student events, concerts or dances?
Students have invited me to events, but I often have to decline due to
scheduling conflicts. Last year I attended a creative student performance
and I thought it was fabulous. It was great to see students in a less rigid,
more creative/expressive milieu. I was reminded that students have many
talents -- I was also reminded of my lack of artistic talent -- and express
them in multiple ways.
You mentioned that you visit family
in New York. Is that where you're from?
Both my parents are from the Caribbean, but
I was born and raised in New York City. Other than New York, I
have lived at least one year in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Maine, Connecticut,
Brussels, Belgium and Dijon, France.
Whatís something humorous or unique that I should know about you?
I once drove across the country in the
middle of the summer in a bathing suit. It was about 100 degrees and my car
did not have an air conditioner. Also, at one point I had a part-time job
selling Lancome cosmetics.
Oh, so youíre a saleswoman too?
I was pretty good; I won an award or two. Go figure!