Q: What highschool did you go to and where?
A: I went to two high schools. For three years, I went to North Garland High School in Garland. Then I moved my senior year and graduated from a school called Ardmore High School in Ardmore, Oklahoma.
Q: What college did you go to and why?
A: I started out at the (University of Oklahoma) because it was far away from my parents. Then I got a scholarship to (the University of) North Texas and they paid for all of my tuition, books and fees for the last two years. Then they paid for my entire master’s degree. I finished there because it was paid for.
Q: What kind of student would you have described yourself as?
A: I was an AP student. I took everything AP. I was also a band geek and I played the clarinet. I mostly kept to myself, because when you take AP classes for almost everything, you’ve got to tune out the noise.
Q: What are some of your most memorable memories in high school?
A: I loved marching band in freshman year. I really developed my friends that I kept for from high school band and then my senior year, I got the opportunity to teach French to fifth-graders at an elementary school and the students could either go to the playground/recess or go to French class. You had to be really entertaining because you were competing against recess and that was when I knew I was going to teach.
Q: Did you know you always want to be a teacher?
A: I did, but I didn’t always know that I did. I graduated number three in my class, and when you graduate that high, you think that you’re going to be a lawyer or you’re going to be a doctor. So you are going to choose one of those programs. I went to the (University of Oklahoma) and I went to do a biochemistry major. I really learned what it meant to be a biochemist as a career and then I thought “no, that is not me.” So I knew what I loved to do, but I just had to figure it out that the stereotype of the math-science route may be money, but it’s not happiness.
Q: What was the most embarrassing moment you had?
A: Probably a lot but I don’t recall them. Probably turning the wrong way in band. It would be freshman year stuff and being chewed out by the public and band directors because all band directors are going to call you out. That is always embarrassing, but then you just learn to live with it and take it as feedback.
Q: What extracurricular activities did you participate in and why?
A: Band and when I went to Oklahoma my senior year, I played tennis. I gave up band because they didn’t have a strong band, and I had kind of grown past it. I wanted something different.
Q: What was the most shocking thing about you when you were a teenager?
A: I’m not a shocking person because I am really open… I don’t shock. I don’t like that. I don’t associate with it because I don’t like surprises. I like order and predictability.
Q: What was your favorite class and why?
A: I liked all of my classes. I don’t necessarily have a favorite because I liked all of them including my teachers. I could say history, but I really liked math and science. I would say math and science, because when I graduated from high school, I thought I was going to be a biochemistry major. Math was easy to me and science was applied math. I liked chemistry and physics, but not biology. They made sense to me. Plus, there is order and safety in it because there is an answer.
Q: What are some of the singers or bands that you listened to as a teenager?
A: Michael Jackson because that was the age of Jackson so I grew up in the mid to late 80s in high school. In the late 80s, it was all about Michael Jackson and unfortunately that was the era of Madonna, Material Girl.
Q: Did you have a genre that you liked?
No, (during the 80s music mainly) was pop and also (the 80s) were the introduction to MTV and so that was the new thing. You would want to have cable TV and MTV which was where you learned culture. For the first time, you could actually see the people that you liked if you couldn’t afford to go the concert. You would see them and that was the first time we had music videos.
Q: Did you have a job during high school?
A: I had a newspaper route. I threw newspapers and I had two wire baskets on a bicycle. I would wrap up the papers and then I would toss them. I learned how to toss them and keep up while rolling down the street.
Q: Do you have any advice to students in your classes?
A: All the time! So when you create your future, if you’re a junior, you should be thinking about “who can I contact at a university and who is doing what I’d like to do in 10 or 20 years from now.” Contact that professor and look up their website and what they publish to see what they are interested in. Say “hey, I am going to be a senior at Mansfield High School. I’m thinking about a biochemistry major and you research and publish on topics that I like. Are there any opportunities for me to shadow you in the summer for 1 or 2 weeks?” Not only do you build a relationship and figure if that (major) is what you really want to do or not, but that professor can help you get a scholarship or into a university that is competitive. It would be really helpful to ask that professor to write a letter of recommendation to verify that you helped and took the initiative. That is going to make a difference when you apply for college or scholarships, because everyone is going to look the same but almost no student is going to take the initiative and have it documented. When applying for college or scholarships, say “hey, I did an internship with engineering professors at UTA and they wrote a letter verifying it. Pick up the phone and verify it. Oh, I win.” That’s my advice to create your future.