aboutif you want to learn more than the background here, just send me an email through my contact page or check out my blog. i will talk about lots of these things in my blog posts too.
i have not invented anything. I have not published anything. I have not won any major dance competitions. I am just enjoying my life and trying to share my knowledge and experience with others who need a boost in enjoying their own lives--or just need a good laugh or bit of encouragement now and then.
in reverse chronological order...
my husband and I have two point five kids, two boys that drive us wild
at only 22 months apart and a daughter who comes to visit as much as
her mother and the courts allow. we have two cats, two cars, two
careers, and live far away from our friends and family. you can
read more about this and our adventures on my blog.
during my undergraduate years at RIT, I took an introductory Ballroom
class my first quarter. Since I was so so shy, I was last picked
"for the team" and ended up with an ok partner. He was very nice,
but put on his cologne with his hands and didn't wash well and sweated
all over me--so I left class smelling like his cologne and some sore
feet. The following year, a guy in my dorm invited me to take a
Two Step class with him because he needed a partner and I was the only
girl he knew that listened to country music. The story did not
end well, but he introduced me to a local country place where I fell in
love with line dancing. Since I did not have a partner, I did not
have to talk to anyone and I could just enjoy moving to the music in an
organized way. I found a couple other guys on campus who liked to
go there too and we all just went to dance several times per
week. As I grew more confident in my dancing, I learned all of
the partner dances. My scientific mind fought with the idea of
being a follower when I understood how to lead better than some of my
partners. So, I learned to lead some of the dances too.
This also helped when we had lots of ladies and not enough
when I graduated and moved to Maryland for my first job, I found a local country bar to go to dance at. When one of my favorite bars was turned into a ballroom studio, it was too expensive for me to go. I was offered a chance to join the teacher-training program. I did it just to learn how to be a better dancer, but I was signed up to teach before I knew what was happening. Turns out that was good for me. I happened to be very good at it. Over the years, I competed as an Amateur in small events and even competed a couple times with some students in local events. You can read more about all of my professional performances and competitions on my dance resume. Performing was never my thing, which might imagine from an introvert. I fell in love with teaching. I helped manage the Ballroom Dance Company for several years, teaching, training new teachers, performaing, and DJing at a couple nightclubs and events. We parted ways and I joined a couple other friends to open Rendezvous Social Dance and Fitness Club. My goal was to offer an affordable alternative to the chain factories like Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire studios where people could just drop-in and get started learning to dance without a membership or long-term contract. As we neared five years, I was married and pregnant with my first son and moved to a neighboring state. We sold the studio to some of our students who were in to Event Management and parted ways. I continue to contract teach dance and you can read more about that on my dance page. I have less time for that with my family now, but I miss it greatly. It is a pleasure that my boys enjoy watching Dancing with the Stars with me to indulge me in my passion. I have taken lessons from some of the instructors that have been on the show and know some of the others by name from the dance community. It is fun to watch them help new people be introduced to the world of partner dancing.
RIT and Marymount
BS Computer Science, MS Information Technology, MA Education
because I had spent my junior and senior year of high school on a college campus, I already knew all about living in a dorm and paying bills with the Bursar plus managing my time and going to class. I *think* that RIT chose me because they needed to graduate more females in their Computer Science program. I chose RIT because I was looking for two things at the time: (1) a school that had their own dedicated Computer Science department rather than an add-on to some other field and (2) a co-op program that would help me find a job when I graduated with work experience. At the time, RIT had the fifth oldest and fourth largest co-op program in the country.
when my dad and I went for a tour in the summer, we were warmly showed around by Rodger Baker. In the years to follow, he would always remember that time and ask fondly of my dad and our farm in the Midwest. Because of my programming experience and AP classes at the Academy, I skipped several freshmen classes. Hank Etlinger and Rodger looked after me pretty much until I graduated. I never knew any female students in my program and was well looked after there by my male instructors and friends during my undergraduate years. The program has changed much since then, I am sure.
the co-op program supported me with a year of work experience that led to my career for the next ten years. I never wanted for time or experience.
because they had one of the very first graduate degrees specifically in Information Technology, I went back to RIT for my first Master's degree. I was able to tailor my degree to my own interests between programming for multimedia and instructional design and computer graphics.
while I was at RIT for both of my degrees, I was able to survive by working part-time on campus. I went to the on-campus job fair during orientation along with many others. At the time, I had no idea what I was looking for. I saw a nice woman with a warm smile sitting quietly by herself among the noise and crowds and long lines for the most popular jobs. She immediately drew me in. I do not remember much after that, but she was my boss, my mentor, and my mom-away-from-mom in the friendship that grew between us for the next decade and more. Other than her honesty, warmth, and professionalism, she taught me how to behave and work in a professional office. As she progressed from a file room manager to her present position with the President of the college, she took me with her as her student assistant and allowed me to grow and learn every step of the way.
in the first grade, my teacher taught us the sign language alphabet and a few other signs. One of her children or nieces was deaf and she shared that experience with us. I remembered a lot of the alphabet over the years and was fascinated by it and the need to be able to communicate with people on their own terms--not just in the language that I knew. My time with Lin Hoke at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (plus all of her managers like Dr. Buckley, Dr. Hurwitz and Mr. DeCaro) shaped my professional career in many ways beyond my field of study. I learned sign language, about the Deaf community, what it means to have a community, and how they further the cause for people who are different, but not less. (Thanks Dr. Grandin for that phrase, borrowed from the world of autism but applicable to so many other areas.)
the other profound impact that RIT had on my life was that they offered a unique experience for residential life. If I had not lived in Computer Science House, I would probably left RIT in the first year. The Special Interest Houses are grouped areas of the dorms where people with common interests live together under their own charter with the school. We had our own computer systems, and I could do my programming labs right in my pajamas and slippers. Most importantly, due to the nature of the system at the time, I lived primarily with 2nd and 3rd year students--those that had already been on campus a few years like me. The Academy had advanced me socially in ways I hadn't imagined and I did not fit in with the normal first year college student. These guys (and a couple gals) taught me about two friends who have served me well over the years: vi and nroff/groff. LOL. They also taught me about Nick Tahou's Garbage Plates, camping at Letchworth State Park, SIGGRAPH, Cthulu, and much about other nerdy things that I never knew I might like.
fast forward a few years into my career and I was looking for another step to prepare for my future. I heard an ad on the radio about a Master's in Education degree that included a teaching license. It sounded like a great way to get into the world of STEM, to learn more about the fundamentals of teaching all subjects, and to leanrn more about raising and educating children. It turns out that I had kids before I could do my student teaching, but I absorbed a great deal about learning and development and walked away with another Master's degree.
birds of feather flock together at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities,
on campus at Ball State University. although it will date me, I
was one of the fortunate few to be in the inaugural class.
deciding to leave my family right after my 16th birthday to move 90
minutes away and live at an experiemental high school for gifted and
talented kids was the scariest thing I have ever done. it was
also the best decision that I have ever made. My experiences
there shaped my whole world, taught me about myself and others, and
exposed me to so much more than I ever knew existed. I loved my
local high school, but it was normal and I was not.
at my local high school, I was shy and bullied. I didn't know I was being bullied because no one talked about that back then. I was harrassed by boys, but in retrospect, they didn't know any better and I didn't know it was wrong--just annoying. The smart kids were teased and made fun of, so I never spoke up in class. I did not want to be teased on top of the bullying and harrassment. Only my teachers knew my grades.
at the "Academy," I often wondered why they let me in. It was just the opposite of my local high school--I felt like i had to hide how little I knew and how "unworldly" I was. I am super grateful for the person who decided I was worth accepting. It was my goal to rise to the occasion. To graduate among so many gifted minds meant that I made it. This is where I learned Mandarin Chinese from Dr. Min Zhang, took a German Literature class taught in German, had a boyfriend for the first time, learned how to present research in computer science from Dr. Brown, and saw my parents cry. I told my liberal arts instructor that I just could not "do writing," and Ms. Beard proved me wrong. I told my physics instructor that I was not interested in any senior year science because I truly didn't get some of the basics, and Dr. Jay Wile showed me how to teach myself by teaching others these concepts by writing code to visualize them on the computer.
for so many others in my class who have become "more" as well, the Academy was the place where we were all nurtured. If you take the time to read the links above and visit the Academy site, you will see the incredible people who have given so much to the following generations--as well as how those generations have embraced that gift and made it into something "more"
down on the farm
proving once again, there is more than corn and cows in Indiana.
If you have ever been to Indiana Beach, you will recognize their famous
slogan. If you have never been, you may just accept that we also
basketball and Purdue, but not much more. LOL
I grew up on a grain farm (corn, oats, soybeans, wheat) about four miles to the nearest town. My elementary school used to be my dad's high school. I love the outdoors and really loved living there. But, truly, my parents still only have dial-up for Internet where they are. When we go to visit, my husband has to camp out at Subway or Starbucks in a town 12 miles away to do his conference calls. Again, I love it! Eh, but it is not very conducive to the type of work that I love.
back in those days, I worked at the Dairy Queen after school and went to Speech Meets on the weekends. Sometimes, I would go to the football games just to work concessions for German Club. The rest of my time I spent at the library. That is where I worked part-time. That is where I leanred to program for the first time in Apple Basic. Anyone who knows the area will surely fondly remember Mr. Steve Kessler.