Thoughtful reflection yields emotional and intellectual growth if you’re willing to evaluate who you are and what you’ve done in your life. Self-examination has the capacity to fuel a personal evolution. Our experiences may change us in a myriad of ways if we summon the courage inside to allow them. At times, my journey has been incredibly rewarding, but it has also presented challenges that have strengthened my resolve as I follow my path. I’m always searching for the lesson ensconced within an experience because doing so fosters the growth that I need to sustain myself.
After accomplishing my goals as a high school social studies teacher, I completed a doctorate in political science to better understand how governing institutions function in our democratic republic. Many of the theoretical and empirical works that I’ve studied to date inform my classroom instruction. In addition, a latent effect of my training is that it influences how I analyze news reports about major developments around the world. While teaching is my chosen profession, I’m a human being who’s deeply concerned about the implications of political decisions and events that affect the human condition as we understand it in local, regional, national, and global contexts.
Fully immersed in my ninth year of teaching at the college level, I find myself more passionate about education than I ever have been before. This stage of my career began when I accepted a position that took me to a remote city on the Colorado River in the low desert of western Arizona. While there, I learned a great deal about my craft, organizational operation, and interpersonal relationships. Moreover, I learned how they are all intertwined. The people we surround ourselves with at our place of employment are vital to our professional success and emotional well-being. Who we encounter throughout the day influence both our mindset and trajectory. I’m thankful for the valuable friendships that I cultivated during my time there.
For more than four years, I taught in the Government Department at Lone Star College-CyFair, a large suburban community college that is located about thirty miles northwest of downtown Houston, Texas. The rapid expansion of the area yielded an incredibly diverse student body composed of people from all over the world. In August of 2017, I began my tenure as department chair. This position included a variety of responsibilities such as recruiting quality adjunct instructors and putting together the semester schedule of classes that we offered. What’s more, in an effort to build social capital and improve the completion rate, my colleagues and I instituted the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) on our campus as part of a system wide initiative that began at LSC-Kingwood. We sought to teach students the importance of voice and agency and how to become advocates on issues that matter to them. From 2015 to 2017, I served as the first campus coordinator, which required me to chair the faculty committee and oversee a variety of events during the academic year.
Longing to teach new courses and return to the West, I accepted a tenure track faculty position at Lake Tahoe Community College in June of 2018. My current teaching assignment includes history and political science courses in both the on-campus and online modalities. Over the last couple of years, I’ve further developed my commitment to viewpoint diversity (thanks, Heterodox Academy) when exploring complex issues (e.g. media influence, economic inequality, American exceptionalism, feminism). After all, there are often multiple ideas, perspectives, and studies that beg to be explored to broaden our understanding of the milieu that surrounds us. In addition, I’m serving as chair of the department. This role affords me the ability to shape my program by creating new courses and a transfer degree. Beyond these professional challenges, I would also like to collaborate with any like-minded colleagues who are interested in hosting civic engagement events on campus in the years to come.
When I’m not writing presentation slides or searching for supplemental materials to use in my classes, I enjoy hiking in the mountains, taking pictures for my photoblog, looking for scorpions on the outskirts of town, indoor rock wall climbing, listening to KUNR and podcasts (e.g. One Life One Chance, HxA, Making Sense, Freakonomics), reading nonfiction, and playing guitar. So, what’s the next step? The plan is to make the valley home with my partner and reintegrate the term “elevation gain” into my regular vocabulary. I’d also like to start a new band with some other aging punks in the area. We’re grey, not gone. Never relent. Sometimes life changes in ways we could never anticipate. That’s part of what makes it an adventure.
May happiness be unearthed through the pursuit of your endeavors.
I want to be understood, validated, respected and loved.
Make changes, not excuses.
Love over anger. Love over bitterness. Love over spite. Love wins, every time.
It’s probably impossible to be totally value free in the social sciences, but we should still make a good faith effort to be objective.
Be careful not to become the left equivalent of what you complain about on the right.
About page: At LTCC, 2019 (Credit: Yousefi); Snake Mountains from Wheeler Peak (13,063 feet) in Great Basin National Park, 2019.
Homepage: La Madre Mountains Wilderness, 2019.