Where were you born and raised? I was born in Fairbanks, Alaska. Then, I moved to Gadsden via Los Cruces, New Mexico when I was about 5 years old. My mother’s family is from Gadsden, and my father’s family lived here at the time, so this has always been “home”.
What is your occupation? I am in higher education, and teach English at GSCC.
What made you decide to work in your field? At some point, I realized that math and I are not friends. Also, I have always been a voracious reader. English degrees seemed the way to go, and once I began college, I had several instructors and professors who really impacted my life in meaningful ways. That was something I wanted to pass on to others.
Tell us about your family and pets. I am married to a fellow English teacher, Jason Bozeman. We have 4 kids: Lakeland (17), Addie (10), Sylvia (7), and Olivia (5). Each one of them are such unique people, and it is quite an adventure watching them grow up. We also have 2 dogs and too many cats who are a lot of fun and full of love. There are not many boring—or quiet—moments at our house.
Describe an average day in your life. Well, this answer is much different now than it would have been just a few brief months ago. In this mid-COVID pandemic world, I have to say the change in routine has had positives and negatives. While I have missed hugging friends, eating out, walking around bookstores, and other activities our world has put the brakes on lately, I have also cherished the time I have had with my family and the few people whose quarantine bubbles sometimes join up with ours. We spend the mornings catching up on work—we have both been fortunate in that we are able to teach from home, and Jason runs a radio station out of his home studio—doing things around the house together, hanging out with our kids, reading, visiting with one another, and generally trying to enjoy this momentarily slowed existence. It won’t last forever, so I am trying to make the most of it.
What school or schools have you attended? I have attended Walnut Park Elementary, was homeschooled through what was Grace Bible School for several years, went to Disque Middle School, then attended Westbrook. I began my college career at Gadsden State Community College, then completed my BA in English from JSU. I continued to UAB and completed an MA in English, and am currently working on my dissertation for an EdD from Sam Houston State University.
What do you like to do in your free time? I love indoor gardening and am a total plant pirate; working in our vegetable garden when it is not a billion degrees outside; reading; creative writing; and visiting with friends.
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment? This is a tough question! I don’t think there is one specific thing that I have done that is my biggest accomplishment, really. Instead, I feel like developing an understanding of who I am because of, and in some cases in spite of, situations and other people throughout my life has allowed me to focus on how I can help others, and that is generally my guiding desire. How can I help someone else find a way forward on their path the way others have helped me?
Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why? Until the last few years, I’ve always answered this by naming either my grandmother or mentor. And, while both of those women truly impacted my life in ways I am still discovering daily, this last almost-decade the most influential person in my life has been my husband. He has poured out unconditional love and devotion on me and our children, he has been my safe place when life gets too crazy, and he is the one who keeps me laughing.
To what do you credit your success? Success is a slippery beast. It is important to have goals, and to be continuously working toward improvement, but it is equally important to find contentment in who you are, and where you are. There have been several experiences and people who have helped teach me this lesson, who have helped me through the times when I needed encouragement. For me, a community of support made up of relationships developed organically through the years, as well as intentional outreach to others has been the key to surviving, succeeding, and growing.
Are you involved in any service organizations? I volunteer with SPAN as a creative writer facilitator for local students as often as I can. This is an incredible program that we have in our community, and it has a special place in my heart. They work with at risk students to get them ready for the GED. I also work with several others in the area hosting meetings for mental health support. We are working toward becoming an affiliate of NAMI, an organization that focuses on education and community outreach for mental health awareness. This pandemic threw us all for a loop, but we should be starting monthly meetings back soon.
What is your favorite thing about this community? Lately, we have seen a lot of division and controversy in our own community and our nation. Often, it can be discouraging to see others who vocally disagree with you on issues, but that can also be evidence of opportunity. I think the passion that so many have in our community for causes that truly impact the lives of others is my favorite thing. There are SO MANY amazing people here, doing so many amazing things—we sometimes forget that most of us genuinely do want to help others. I see that every time I am out in our community—whether I see signs for a food bank, or reminders that it is time to register for classes, or neighbors protesting, or I see someone stopping to offer a stranger a ride, or pay for a student’s meal. We are diverse in backgrounds, socioeconomics, education, color, religion, politics, football allegiances, and more. But, there are so many giving, generous people in our community. That gives me hope for our future.
What would you like to see change in the community? I would like to see a cohesive, centralized hub of communication for mental health resources. We have more resources than it seems at first glance, but each can seem to operate as an island. With state and federal cuts to funding in recent years, it makes sense that our dedicated mental health professionals are already overloaded. I believe our community could benefit from a central communication organization that could help people not only locate appropriate mental health services, but also help them to juggle the many moving parts that make up a successful treatment plan or support network. When an individual or family is in crisis and survival mode, making the daily phone calls, accessing paperwork, creating a long term plan are things that are exhausting and often confusing. Advocates who are trained to navigate this process could help organize the on-time help our neighbors, loved ones, and friends need to live their best lives.
What are three words that describe you? Overthinker, genuine, and passionate.
What is something surprising that many do not know about you? I did not know who the Beatles, Queen, and many other musicians and bands were until I met my husband. Bless him. His “School of Rock” started then.
What is your favorite quote? My favorites today from Margaret Atwood: “Powerlessness and silence go together”, and “A word after a word after a word is power.”
What is on your bucket list? Multiple visits to London, publishing a novel, and enjoying a peaceful, calm, boring life.
What is your hidden talent? I have been told I am comforting—is that a talent? I really listen to people, and I think that is the comfort. So, listening?
If a movie were made about your life, who would you want to play you? I have no clue. Melissa McCarthy? She is MUCH funnier than I am.
What advice would you give to yourself as a child? It gets better. Keep going.