About Me

My professional interests reflect my international background of education and work. From North America to Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and beyond, I am an example of a global or world citizen!

I grew up in Florence, Oregon, a small town in the Northwest United States. I grew up with the Oregon dunes, the Pacific Ocean, and the Siuslaw River in addition to many small lakes.

I then attended Portland State University, a public institution. Coming from a rural environment, it was a big city for me! At PSU, I studied to become a high school social studies teacher. However, I became interested in policy and sociology of education, as I learned that teachers work in a complex social and political context, which challenges them to work toward goals such as the development of students, equality, democracy, and social justice.

I developed the travel bug during my first big overseas experience, where I provided an educational summer camp to children of U.S. Air Force officers and employees in Adana, Turkey, with the University of Iowa. While there I formed a passionate interest in cross-cultural phenomena, as I explored life in a place very different from Oregon, where East meets West everyday, and where Christianity and Islam developed together in the Middle East.

As an undergraduate I also served as a student consultant for an exchange program between a community school in rural Mexico and PSU, visiting the site independently to evaluate and compare communities and cultures.

In 2003, I attended the University of Cambridge, England, for my MPhil in a taught course, "Politics, Democracy, and Education," which focused on history, sociology, and philosophy of education from an international perspective. I learned through my own experience there about how different intellectual environments impact education, as well as from my colleagues and instructors, who came from around the world. I was also fortunate to be in another context with rich culture and history. While at Cambridge I developed my interest in philosophy of education, exploring how multiculturalism challenges liberal and conservative political orientations.

For my PhD, I moved back to the United States, studying at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, with professors Nicholas Burbules, Walter Feinberg, Fazal Rizvi, Cameron McCarthy, and Michael Peters. My dissertation examined policies and practices around teaching about Muslims and Islam in the United States since September 11, 2001. As a U.S. citizen, 9/11 impacted me, occurring in my first days of student teaching at PSU. There I observed how students developed as individuals in a tumultuous time in national history. At the same time, I worried about people developing stereotypes of Muslims, as my experience in Turkey and other Muslim countries taught me that people are people, and can be kind, tolerant, and open-minded (and violent and mean), regardless of creed, skin color, or nationality. I also met and married my wonderful husband at Illinois. We completed our degrees--mine in Educational Policy Studies, and his in Physics--in 2009.

After completing our PhDs, we moved to South Africa with the United States Peace Corps to boost education in disadvantaged rural areas. I trained regional and local school leaders in implementing school policy and taking on leadership roles and participated in training and program evaluation for the Peace Corps Educational Resource Project of South Africa. We lived in the North-West and KwaZulu-Natal, and learned a great deal there about educational development. We lived for nearly 1 year without running water, and gained insight about what it is like to be an educator in a developing context. We were also lucky to be in a beautiful part of the world with tremendous natural scenery and biological diversity, and to be part of living history, as multicultural South Africa continues to grow as a democratic nation since the end of Apartheid in 1994.

Life took us next to Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where I served as Policy and Planning Coordinator for the Higher Colleges of Technology, the country's largest higher education institution with 17 campuses. I oversaw policy system-wide and helped lead the system's Institutional Effectiveness and Research Ethics committees. Abu Dhabi is another richly multicultural environment, where national citizens are the minority within the society. In the Gulf I helped develop the program for the international Festival of Thinkers conference held in Abu Dhabi, and spoke at regional events on a global perspective on education.

Tim and Liz at Lion Rock, HK
Our journey east continued with another big move in 2012, when we relocated to Hong Kong, where I am now Assistant Professor of Education and Tim is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Science, both at the University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong is another cross-cultural delight for people like us. I particularly enjoy learning new insights about identity formation and nationalism in Hong Kong, and working with students and colleagues from China, Hong Kong, Britain, and around the globe in yet another new work and living environment. Currently, we live in Sai Ying Pun near Central, Hong Kong Island, and I love nothing more than a hike up to the Peak in the morning, and exploring the rich culture around me. In our free time, my husband and I also love running, hiking, and trying new restaurants in Hong Kong, and scuba diving in Asia. At HKU, we are not just educators, but also students, as we are studying Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese) and getting to know the cinema, cuisine, and arts of this region.