Director Early Honors Program, Assistant Professor of Writing
I first came to Alaska in 1980, planning to spend a few months in Southeast Alaska at the remote fishing lodge where I’d been hired for a summer season.
Exploring that wild and beautiful place by foot or boat made me realize that I needed more time. I gave up city life and spent the next 10 months as caretaker on the Chickamin River, about 80 uninhabited miles by boat from Ketchikan. The site was so remote that months would go by before I’d see a boat or plane pass by.
My hours were divided between reading and thinking and doing chores that Alaskans do to stay alive in the wilderness: I hauled water. I chopped wood. Most of all, I learned that I could rely on myself in ways I never thought possible.
Soon afterward, I bought a commercial fishing permit for the Yakutat District along the southeast coast of the Gulf of Alaska. In winters, I first attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks and graduated in 1990 with a BA in English and a minor in philosophy, and then moved to the University of California Berkeley for a master’s.
My thesis examined Conrad’s writing and the curative effect of physical work in a natural setting. I’m pursuing an interdisciplinary doctorate at UAF in English literature, philosophy and neural psychology; my dissertation focuses on the concept and consciousness of self.
In addition to teaching writing, I serve as director of APU’s Early Honors program for academically advanced high school seniors. APU is a great fit for me because, like me, people here are strongly connected to the natural setting and see wilderness and learning as transformative.
In fact, I see big transformations in students from the time they arrive to the time they graduate a few short years later.
I believe that APU’s small, close-knit community gives students confidence to accomplish their goals; I know that curiosity about the world and a genuine enjoyment of hard work are their own rewards.
It’s a message APU aims to deliver to every one of us.
BA, University of Alaska Fairbanks
MA, University of California Berkeley