How did you discover your passion for what you do, and what opportunities have helped shape your career?

I was not aware of it until much later, but I discovered my passion for helping and communicating constructively with others early on in life. As a child I loved to hear stories and recreate or retell those stories to others. I even had my own fake “radio station” on my Playschool recorder and would “interview” my family members or friends that came over and then would put all their interviews together as a long story that I would narrate. Later in life, this led me to do film production and reporting, and then ultimately I was able to listen and tell the important stories of participants in my communication research studies to the masses through my research as a college professor. The discovery that I loved actively listening to and then retelling the stories of those around me sparked a passion in me that I have not yet stopped striving after.


Who has been an invaluable mentor for your professional career? What did you learn from them?

There are two women that made a huge impact on encouraging me to pursue my dreams and helping me actually make those dreams happen. First, my undergraduate advisor Dr. Carol Bishop Mills helped me understand my passion for storytelling and communication research. She was more than an advisor to me as an undergraduate, but also a friend who talked with me openly and challenged me to figure out what I truly wanted to do with not just a job, but a career. Through her advising I learned that my passion would likely involve graduate school and a PhD. She was the first one to encourage me to change from a career in broadcasting to one I was more passionate about – one as a communication professor and researcher. I owe a lot to her encouragement. The second woman who has had a huge impact on my professional career is Dr. Dawn O. Braithwaite. She was the first to bring me under her wing as an inexperienced graduate student and new researcher, and she had faith in my abilities even before I did. She provided me countless opportunities to learn from her work as a stepfamily scholar and these opportunities led me to where I am today, not only as a professor/researcher – but also as a stepmother who has benefitted from the teachings her scholarship has provided over the years. To this day, she encourages me to be the best researcher I can be and to get my research outside of purely academia and towards the general public who likely need access to it most.


How do you make sure you stay connected with your professional network?

I am constantly in contact with my professional network through social media, emails and professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.


How have friendships helped you professionally? Is there a friend (or Delta Zeta sister) that has been behind you every step of the way on your career journey?

I mentioned above how thankful I am that Delta Zeta led me to my inner circle – including my pledge sisters Haley Painter Holley and Kelsey Kurth Johnson and both my biological and sorority sister Morgan Oliver Lee.