I was born in Denver, CO, and spent my first five years there. Then my family moved to a very small town on the plains of Colorado. After that, we moved to Los Angeles, CA, which was an enormous change, as you might imagine. I spent nearly a year in Spokane, WA when I was a teen, but otherwise stayed in California until I went to graduate school.
I began my college education at Los Angeles Community College, where I took philosophy classes, lots of Italian, and some psychology classes. It was there I took my first anthropology class and fell in love.
I transferred to Humboldt State University, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 1995. HSU is a lot like UWGB in size, and in its commitment to undergraduate liberal arts education. I had really excellent professors there, in small classes, who mentored me and provided opportunities to TA and learn about research. I had a strong interest in adolescence as a life phase by then. I grew very interested in psychological and medical anthropology, and realized I wanted to go to graduate school somewhere that emphasized applied anthropology over knowledge for knowledge’s sake.
So I applied and was accepted to the University of Kentucky, specifically to work with Susan Abbot-Jamieson and Carolyn Pope Edwards, both anthropologists who were well-known for their work in human development. I was very fortunate to work with both of these wise women on my Master’s degree, and to additionally be offered the chance to work with the medical anthropologist, Mary Anglin. Dr. Anglin asked me to work with her on a project funded by the NIH that explored the overuse of prescription medications in Appalachia. That ethnographic research formed the basis of my masters thesis.
I worked on a few other projects and did a lot of teaching, but eventually I settled on a dissertation topic that would allow me to complete my work in the United States. I had been working in Mexico on short ethnographic projects and on a longer archaeological project (my husband Jim’s dissertation work), and had come to know many Mexican families who cared very deeply about education. Yet in the United States, Mexican adolescents are not doing well academically. I wanted to understand why. So my dissertation is an ethnographic exploration of why Mexican immigrant teens to Kentucky do not pursue education, and what would make it possible for them to do so.
I have done a lot of different kinds of work in my life (cleaning houses, selling vitamins, working in a vintage book store; I’ve even been paid for typing other peoples’ poetry!), and all of those jobs better helped me understand the human condition. Here is a list of the things I’ve done since I began graduate school:
2006 - Assistant Professor of Human Development, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
1996 – 2005 Adjunct Instructor, University of Kentucky, Dept. of Anthropology
1996 – 2006 Adjunct Instructor, Lexington Community College, Department of Social Sciences and Graphics Technology
1999 – 2005 Adjunct Instructor, Eastern Kentucky University, Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work
1995 Teaching Assistant, Humboldt State University, Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work