Where do you currently work?
Tell me a bit about your career?
For the last few years I have been doing various freelance projects which center around freelance writing and research focusing on the culture, traditions, oral history, and social issues within in the central Arkansas area. I write and produce radio pieces for KUAF 91.3 FM, Public Radio out of Fayetteville, Arkansas. I also occasionally write for The Courier, a local newspaper out of Russellville, Arkansas. These freelance projects allow me to communicate with the community, listen to their stories and concerns, and engage in dialog about the past, present, and future of the community. I also work as an editor and transcriber for the Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at the University of Arkansas. The center is a relatively new organization, and as we expand I will begin working with youth around the state, teaching them the benefits of oral history.
My main job these days is being a stay at home mom to 18 month old twin boys. I love the fact that these freelance jobs allow me to set my own hours so I can balance my passion for cultural studies with my need to be with my children.
How has folklore prepared you?
My time at WKU, and the study of folklore in general, has prepared me in countless ways. When I came into the program I had already been working as a researcher and writer for several years. But the classes gave me the opportunity to think more critically about my work and some of the underlying issues cultural workers deal with on a daily basis. Classes in Theory and Fieldwork helped me to understand the conceptual history of our field and think critically about, and challenge the underlying assumptions, present in our work today. Classes such as Folklore and Education, Cultural Conservation, and my independent study focusing on human rights education and folklore allowed me to think critically about how I want to apply this knowledge to my own life and community, especially within the realm of cultural sustainability, human rights, inter-generational dialog, and localism. Because WKU's program has a large emphasis on applied public folklore I came away with a greater understanding of the opportunities for partnerships between folk studies and the public education system, the world of cultural commons and the dialog surrounding cultural pluralism. I also gained and/or expanded upon several practical, hands-on skills including public speaking, grant writing, dialog facilitation, and film making. Although I was already familiar with the interviewing process, my time at WKU helped me to gain a greater understanding of the power of human stories and the importance of listening to the diverse voices within a community.
I think the thing that prepared me more than anything was my time spent working in the community, something this program greatly encourages. My summer internship with the KY Remembers Youth Oral History Camps, a project of the KY Commission on Human Rights, allowed me to gain a greater understanding of Kentucky's Civil and Human Rights struggles and how younger generations can apply these stories to the betterment of our collective future. I'd never thought about the importance of inter-generational dialog before then, and now this concept is at the center of my work. In working with the West Kentucky African American Heritage Museum in Russellville, Kentucky I learned how oral history, applied folklore, and historic preservation can be applied within a community to challenge narrative assumptions and engage young and old in fighting for a stronger community. These experiences outside of the classroom, combined with my time in classroom spent reading, listening, and dialoging with professors and students, prepared me for the community work I do today as well as helped to forge the dreams I have for the future, including the creation of a folklife and oral history research center in rural central Arkansas.