A Professor’s Journey

     Dr. J decided that they would travel back to Canada and note places that they experienced. “We thought we should spend more time in Canada. And we should really check it out,” Dr. J said. In 2019, after Dr. J discussed with her sister their plans to travel to Denver, the goal had increased and the planning had started. “She said sarcastically, ‘While you’re at it, you might as well go to Alaska.’ We thought what a great idea,” Dr. J said.  Dr. J started to plan out how they would drive from Maine to Alaska and back again. “It’s doable to do it. It’s going to take a long time but we can do it,” Dr. J said. 

     There was much planning that needed to be done. “There was lots and lots and lots of planning because we had to find accessible lodging, which is really challenging. And then where would we get gas? Where would be our rest areas, food stops, and all of these different things?” Dr. J asked. Because so many of these aspects would not be accessible. 

     Dr. J received some help during the planning process from Abi Davis, who attended UMPI as a student. For Abi this was a learning experience. “It was the spring before I started my senior year. Dr. J and I started talking about possibilities for my practicum. I didn’t really have any ideas. And Dr. J introduced the idea of potentially helping plan the trip to Alaska, and I found that intriguing,” Abi said. Nowadays, Abi specializes in this kind of work for her academics in grad school. “It helped me narrow my interests–and deepen my passions–academically and professionally. Like in grad school right now, I don’t know that had I chosen a different program at UMPI or had I chosen even a different practicum project, I don’t know that I’d be in the program that I am in now,” Abi said.

     Dr. J’s way of teaching is unique, but their lessons are lifelong. Dr. J’s classes are not for the faint of heart. “I wore many interchangeable hats throughout the two semesters that the planning took place. So, my roles included: researcher planning and sorting out logistics, as well as conducting research for answers when necessary. And we couldn’t find the answers easily online. It was very heavy on the research,” Abi said. “It was difficult in the sense that it took a lot of very careful work, and I had to be very diligent at the beginning of each semester that I was working on these projects.”

     For Dr. J, their work is far from over despite having met their goal to travel to Alaska. “Your job as a teacher never truly ends. Most people are good and most people are not trying to discriminate. But people don’t really know what ‘accessible’ means. They don’t really understand all the aspects of it. So, let’s teach people,” Dr. J said.

Dr. J., Saint, and Dusty at the Top of the Israel Asper Tower of Hope, Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.