I was born/grew up in: Toronto, Ontario
I now live in: Embrun, Ontario
What I do at work
I work on a contract basis, teaching essay writing to first-year students. I also research the history of Canadian book publishing on my own, for which I have to find my own funding.
In my teaching career, I use a Learning Management System (LMS) called Brightspace, which provides a closed website just for my class. With this technology, I can share my lecture slides, videos, assignments, etc., with my class, In turn, my students can upload their assignments for me to mark.
When I put on my independent researcher hat, then I use my writing and editing skills in MS Word as well as my researching skills. The research itself is the least technical part of my job because the period I specialize in is 1960 to 1980. During this time, we had no computers and no Internet. To research this era, I go to the archives and look at old papers such as letters, memos, reports, newspaper articles, etc.
My career path is
I began my career path by wanting to be a writer, which I am doing in my research career. I also support my research career by making money as an editor. Little known fact: You need to be a better writer than any of the people you are editing in order to help them make their writing better. I never imagined when I started my PhD that I would also enjoy teaching. I've been a non-fiction editor since 1989, so teaching essay writing comes quite naturally.
I am motivated by
The essay writing class that I teach is REQUIRED for all first year students. As a result, my challenge is to make them GLAD that they had to take it. My favourite part of my job is meeting keen, intelligent students. They are motivated about their own university career and know what they want to do and how to get there. I find it sad that many students have no idea what they are doing in university and are only there because they think they need to get a BA to get a job. Even sadder are the students who are still doing what their parents tell them to do rather than what they love.
How I affect people’s lives
First-year students often need help in learning to write essays for university. Sometimes it seems to me that they can't get past the 5-paragraph essays they wrote in high school. An essay can be any length, from a 600-word blog post to an entire non-fiction book.
Outside of work I
I read a LOT, both for my job and for pleasure. I also make quilts, which makes use of the sewing skills I learned in school. I make quilts for people with cancer for Victoria's Quilts Canada and sometimes I also make them for family and friends.
My advice to others
If you are going to get a PhD, get it ASAP; don't wait until you are in your 40s.