Janette: Let’s go back in time a bit. Did you always want to major in Literature and teach?
Shannon: No. Believe it or not, when I started out in college I was a nursing major. My mom was in healthcare, so I was drawn to nursing in high school. I even did a senior program where I trained to be a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. I liked the medical field. Though, I didn’t like the classes I had to take. I’m really awful at math, and chemistry was not interesting.
Janette: Was there a role model that lead you to writing?
Shannon: Yes, actually, there was. I was a strong student in my high school English classes, but I didn’t really envision myself teaching until I met my college writing professor. She was 9 months pregnant when I took the class with her, but she was always smiling and it was clear that she loved what she was doing. It was during that class that I realized I liked being in the classroom and that I could see myself standing at the front of it.
Janette: Besides your freshman writing class, do you have a favorite class that has stayed with you?
Shannon: I loved the African Literature class that I took at Cal State San Marcos. It was taught by Dr. Catherine Cucinella and it changed the way I thought about the world. Before that class, I knew nothing about the history of Africa. Also, we read The Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee and it became one of my favorite novels.
Janette: What do you like most about teaching?
Shannon: I like being able to help students find their voice in their writing. Sometimes, when they start out in the course, they don’t even realize that they have a unique style of writing. It’s a valuable moment when they discover their own voice. Also, it’s amazing seeing students improve from essay to essay.
Janette: When you aren’t grading, what do you like doing?
Shannon: I enjoy hiking. My husband, my daughter Karynne, and I like this spot in the Santa Rosa mountains. On the weekends we’ll load into the car with our two labs, Abby and Sunny, and spend some time outside.
Janette: What are your plans for the holidays?
Shannon: I am having a baby! He’s due a few days after Christmas. So, I’ll be relaxing, catching up on sleep, and basically preparing for his arrival. Also, Karynne, my husband, and I have a tradition of seeing The Nutcracker during the holidays. It was a tradition I had in my family, growing up, so it’s become a tradition for us now, too.
Janette: Thanks, Shannon! It was fun getting to know you better.
Shannon: It was great chatting with you. Thank you.