I was born in Fort Worth and grew up in several towns and cities in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. After getting a degree in English from TCU, I spent five years teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Madrid, Spain and then took the Trans-Siberian railroad to China, where I spent four more years teaching ESL and American Literature and Culture at Xiamen University. From China I went to the University of Chicago, where I got a master's degree in the humanities, and then across town to the Language, Literacy and Rhetoric program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I got my Ph.D. in the spring of 2008. That fall, I came to ECU. I became the director of the University Honors Program in 2012.