Reflections on Year One

As I reflect on my first year on the tenure track last year, I realize that many of the connections I formed with colleagues across the university resulted from my involvement in events offered by the Pew Faculty and Teaching Learning Center (FTLC) and attending two Faculty/Staff Writing Retreats offered by the Fred Meijer Center for Writing & Michigan Authors. Given that it’s late August 2015 and convocation is tomorrow, I guess that this post is better late than never. We’re already rounding the corner to the beginning of year two!

The two FTLC programs that were the most impactful were The Inaugural Winter Teaching Life Retreat: Applying the Wisdom of Remarkable Women Leaders (December 2014) and the Strengths Based Leadership Teaching Circle (Winter 2015). The retreat and teaching circle encourage introspection. In many ways the self-reflection was fueled by two books, which centered our discussion, How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life by Joanna Barsh and Susie Cranston and Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie. Being in this community also encouraged me to read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown as this is the book women who participated in an earlier program had read the previous year.

The writing retreats allowed me to focus on book manuscript revisions. Sitting with other faculty members in relative silence allowed me to center my attention on writing. This retreat complemented the weekly, online writing group that I am in with a colleague. There is a definite value in working in conjunction with one another for accountability purposes as well as in a group where you workshop one another’s work.

This post centers on three takeaways I found after reading above-mentioned books. While I believe in the value of writing groups and writing retreats, I leave you with the words from the authors of articles in Chronicle Vitae and Inside Higher Ed:

Takeaway #1: Flexibility and Adaptability

Academia is not always predictable. While we may know the major milestones in one’s career that we ought to meet, how we get there is not necessarily a linear path. There is no “right” path in the academy. Discussing indirect routes that may lead us to new ideas, Barsh and Cranston note:

Many women set out, traveling down academic and career paths, only to discover meaningful work after more than a few turns in the road. The zigs and zags of their career may seem inefficient (surely a straight shot to your goal would seem a better choice). Things are not always what they seem. In most cases, women leaders recall that these zigs taught self-awareness and those zags led them down the path to skills and experiences that opened a door. It was not time wasted. It was their time for discovering what they loved and learning new capabilities (23).

Each academic year, I set goals for myself related to teaching, research, and service. I recalibrate these goals each semester and over the summer. This process of recalibration allows me to evaluate whether I will meet these goals and reflect on where I may need to adapt in the face of an unexpected event. Barsh and Cranston encourage the evaluation and re-evaluation of one’s ambitions and priorities, writing:

From time to time, consciously reframe: Think about your goals and whether you should change them. The formula that worked for you in the past may no longer fit the circumstances. And when you see (or feel) the signs that you are locking in, take a deep breath and head for the balcony. We don’t want you to ever change being open to change (112).

Similarly, Rath and Conchie focus on creating weekly, monthly and annual goals to ensure success. Where do you want to end up? Consider your strengths and how they will help move you from point A to point B. Clearly communicate and perhaps even over-communicate what you’re doing and why. Well-defined plans articulate your motivations to faculty, staff, and students that you work with in various capacities.

Anticipate the fact new and unexpected, yet exciting opportunities are always on the horizon. Taking advantage of these possibilities opens new doors and facilitates deeper connections within colleagues and students, for example. This does not mean I say yes to every prospect that comes knocking on my door. Rather, I consider how these various openings relate to my larger goals. In my post on the Association for Asian American Studies’ East of California Junior Faculty retreat I discussed the benefits of creating a coherent narrative that links your teaching, research, and service. How does saying yes relate to your broader goals?

Takeaway #2: Know Your Passion

Find your passion and what drives you to do the work that you do. What gives you meaning? Barsh and Cranston note: “Meaning is the motivation in your life. It’s finding what engages you, what makes your heart beat faster, what gives you energy and creates passion. Meaning enables you to push yourself to the limit of your capabilities – and beyond” (22). Figure out what sustains you in the academy.

For me, it’s supporting students of color and other marginalized communities. This is particularly salient given my location in the Midwest where often I am one of the few Asian American faculty students engage with in the Humanities. There are currently no Asian American Studies courses taught on a regular basis. In Fall 2015 I will teach a one-credit course, The Hypersexual Female Asian Body, which explores the racialized and sexualized depictions of women of Asian descent in US popular culture. I also will direct an independent study, “Introduction to Korean Adoption Studies,” with an undergraduate student.

Takeaway #3: Don’t Be Afraid to Dare Greatly

Defining what it means to dare greatly, Brown comments: “Daring greatly means finding our own path and respecting what that search looks like for other folks” (231). Daring greatly means embracing vulnerability and not allowing fear to stop one from achieving their goals. To this end, Brown notes: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual ways, vulnerability is the path” (34). As part of this process, we also need to embrace or at least recognize that imperfection is not a negative. Brown writes: “Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts and to our sense of purpose; it’s the hazardous detour” (128). One of the areas that I find this advice to be particularly helpful is with writing. Learning to share drafts of manuscripts, articles, and chapters early with colleagues is an acquired skill. This is where writing groups and friends/colleagues are helpful. Soliciting feedback on an early, unfinished piece of work may feel daunting, but it is an invaluable process.

Concluding Thoughts

Utilizing the resources offered by my institution to first year faculty allowed me to consciously and deliberately engage my community. I strengthened existing skills and honed new ones through taking advantage of the various workshops. As I embark on year two, I keep the following questions from Barsh and Cranston in mind: “Consider the next milestone in your career. Do you know what you have to do to achieve it? Do you believe that achieving it is in your control? What are you doing to reach that goal (192)?”

Reflections on #DHSI2015 #C32

From June 15 – 19, 2015, I attended the “Professionalizing the Early Career Digital Humanist: Strategies and Skills” workshop at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The workshop focused on developing professional and transferable skills that include building scholarly profiles on social media (e.g. LinkedIn,, ORCID), developing or improving a professional website, funding sources to support digital humanities projects, and considering how we may deploy these skills in graduate and undergraduate programs to support students’ professional development. The course summary notes: “These skills–knowledge mobilization, working collaboratively, maintaining an effective online presence, clear-language research communication, networking, project management–can help digital humanists ensure that their work has the greatest possible impact, and that they have the greatest possible opportunity to develop and deploy those skills where they wish.” Thank you to Melissa Dalgleish (@meldalgleish) and Daniel Powell (@djp2025) for a fruitful discussion, helpful tips, and advice last week.

To begin, please note that this is a lengthy post. I am hoping to provide substantive coverage of my week at DHSI. The intention of doing so is two-fold:

  1. I am aware that many graduate students and early career faculty (particularly from underrepresented communities) lack the resources or supports to attend professional development workshops such as DHSI. I was fortunate to receive a DHSI scholarship and support from my university to attend. Thank you to Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Maria Cimitile and Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies Dean Anne Hiskes. And thank you to my department chair, Wendy Burns-Ardolino for being supportive of my work and research.
  2. I am deeply committed to sharing what I’ve learned at conferences with colleagues and friends. We don’t do enough of this in the academy.

I have used sub-headers to guide your reading. This post is broken into segments that focus on the following:

  • Constructing an online presence
  • Nuts and Bolts of Websites
  • Funding Digital Humanities (DH) Projects and Example DH Projects
  • Major Takeaways (& what I hope to do at DHSI 2016)

For a deeper understanding of what occurred within the “Professionalizing the Early Career Digital Humanist: Strategies and Skills” workshop, I encourage you to view the Storify feed created by Jodine Perkins. For an in depth look at what occurred on specific days, check out “The Life DHSI” by Steve Anderson. Dan Royles also created a feed documenting the work of individuals in the “Data, Math, Visualization, and Intrepretation of Networks” workshop.


Aware that one’s online presence is a construct, “Professionalizing the Early Career Digital Humanist: Strategies and Skills” sought to encourage participants to actively engage with how their image and information is being used across the web. The workshop emphasized the fact that each of us already has digital footprints from our use of Twitter and Facebook to LinkedIn and Google+ profiles. Yet many of individuals do not create a coherent link between these profiles. This could be detrimental because many first impressions between employers and colleagues may be based on what is “Google-able.”

PRO-TIP: Open an incognito tab in Google Chrome or turn on private browsing in Safari and Google yourself. What comes up first? Did you learn anything new about what people may find?

This portion of the workshop sought to ensure all participants gained confidence in exploring and deploying digital tools and developed the basic elements of a strong digital academic presence. Four questions we asked ourselves throughout the week were:

  1. What do you need to do?
  2. When do you need to do it?
  3. What are you doing it for?
  4. How much is enough?

We discussed how we could enhance existing digital profiles. For those with a limited online presence, they learned what tools would be best suited for their needs. This conversation was part of a wider discussion concerning professional websites and search engine optimization (SEO).

PRO-TIP: If you do not have a consistent, professional headshot for your profiles, ask your university if you can get one done. If you cannot ask your university, ask a friend. Using the same or a few of the same images will allow for consistency and coherency.

The two images below illustrate what appears when I searched for the following: GVSU Liberal Studies and Kimberly McKee GVSU.

GVSU Lib Studies Google Search results

Google Search Results for Kim McKee GVSU

The next image below shows the terms that directed individuals to my website on June 17, 2015, when interviews I completed with news outlets regarding Rachel Dolezal appeared in American media. (Please note that a separate post concerning why and how adoptees and allies including myself came together the week of June 15th will appear next week.)

Wordpress Search Terms

Knowing what terms are used to find my website gives me a better understanding of how people find me online. Again, it’s about recognizing that you have an existing digital footprint and taking control of your digital identity.

Yet what was extremely helpful for me as an advisor and colleague/friend to graduate students and early career faculty was our focus on creating professionalization plans. We kept the following questions in mind:

  • What type of advising and/or professional development opportunities do they need to successfully mark themselves as burgeoning professionals in their chosen fields?
  • How can we help them create a skills based resume on LinkedIn, for example, as well as on paper to adequately capture their capabilities?

In the case of LinkedIn, when promoting yourself for a particular job, we were encouraged to insert key skills associated with the job description under our names where one’s job title typically goes. We were also urged to change the summary description to ensure it’s tailored for the position. Because Melissa and Daniel recognize that sometimes those individuals looking at #altac careers, they also noted that we should ensure that our LinkedIn profile settings have been updated to ensure our “connections” are not receiving notifications when our profiles are updated.

When discussing Twitter, we reflected on the following questions:

  • How do we value the social media site and what is our presence?
  • Do we only tweet during conferences?
  • Is Twitter part of the broader way we network and build community?

Melissa and Daniel also noted that depending on our intellectual community connecting via Facebook may or may not be a norm. For me, I connect with individuals affiliate with Asian American Studies, Women’s Studies, and Adoption Studies via Facebook. In fact it was one method used to organize an upcoming 2015 National Women’s Studies Association roundtable and was how I received an invitation to write chapter in a forthcoming edited volume. The latter was a direct result of conversations I had with one of the co-editors at the Association for Asian American Studies conference.


The individual modules associated with professional development, more broadly (e.g. elevator pitch, tools for professionalization), built upon one another to allow workshop participants consider the development of a website to enhance their digital presence. We discussed concerns about privacy and whether sharing scholarship online may impede a contract with a university press or negatively impact a journal submission. This particular discussion also explored what it means to host one’s own domain (e.g. Reclaim Hosting) and then utilizing a plugin such as WordPress versus using WordPress directly.

As someone who came to the workshop with a working website based on the WordPress platform, I am looking into migrating my site to a new platform such as Reclaim Hosting in order to have more autonomy of my materials and files. I have yet to complete the migration process. I plan on looking into various options and making a decision within the year.

We compared two different website building platforms – WordPress versus Square Space and engaged in an active conversation about what happens when your ideal, first choice domain name is already taken. What are the costs benefits of buying .info, .net, .digital versus using .com? For me, I selected because and were already taken.

A quick note about Square Space, many of my colleagues at the workshop who selected this option use many images, which Square Space seems more ready to handle in comparison to WordPress. This judgment is based on observing my colleague’s sites. Great examples of how images are used in Square Space from my class (#DHSI2015 #C32) are from Drew Barker, Greg Chan, and Allison Lange.

We also discussed best practices concerning what information we should include on our sites. Melissa and Daniel offered their knowledge and skills about to embed and link documents (e.g. Dropbox or Google Drive files), video (e.g. YouTube), sound (e.g. SoundCloud plugin, podcasts), images (e.g. Creative Commons Flickr images, Instagram), and social media plugins (e.g. Twitter).

While website design may seem periphery to how people conceive of digital humanities, if we’re engaged in digital humanities we should have an online presence. This presence should not just merely exist on it’s own. Rather, it should demonstrate our fluency and participation with the online world. And remember, we already have digital footprints.

Even if you do not want to build your own website, making sure your presence on the social networking sites mentioned above is clear, crisp, and coherent is critical. To this end, make sure your profile on your university website tells viewers who you are and what you do. Don’t forget that your scholarly presence intersects with your work in the digital humanities.


The final portion of our workshop highlighted various funding schemes offered by Canadian and American government and non-government organizations. Below are the funding streams applicable to the American context:

As we pursue various funding schemes, it’s important that we learn how to clearly discuss one’s project to digital humanities scholars and laypersons. They suggested look at Karen Kelsky’s grant template from The Professor is In.

Melissa and Daniel also underscored the fact that many of funding organizations are deeply invested in ensuring that digital humanities projects have professional development plans for undergraduate and graduate students as well as postdocs working on the project and knowledge mobilization plans concerning how we intend on disseminating our findings. Moreover, these digital projects may also have both digital and print components. How do these two aspects of the overall project interface and intersect with one another? An example of a digital project is Canada and the Spanish Civil War.

As part of the weeklong workshop, I also took part in broader institute presentations. Five minutes presentations during the final two colloquia of the DHSI discussed the use of TEI (Text Encoding Initiative), data mining, and network mapping across disciplines, including history, literature, and art history.[1] These presentations also showcased the deployment of various digital tools to strengthen humanities in the twenty-first century. For example, Lindsay Kang discussed data mining in her presentation, “Robots Reading Vogue.”


This past week was a whirlwind of activity and skills building. After engaging in discussion with colleagues, I created my profile. I had yet to do so as I was not entirely sure of it’s “value-add.” In fact, I am still in the process of developing it and adding a list of publications and conference presentations. It is very much a work in progress. My goal is to at least improve its readability and content during the 2015/2016 academic year. This profile along with my Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles are connected to my website.

Since I had an existing website, I used the time this week to ask myself questions concerning what information I want to share with viewers:

I continue to make revisions to my website. I realize that it is text-heavy, so I am striving to include more photos to make it more eye-catching and appealing. I recognize that my website is a work-in-progress that will evolve and change based on the nature of my research, teaching, and service. In addition, as a work-in-progress it reflects the fact that my digital identity will never be a static presence.

Finally, the learning that occurred during DHSI was not limited to the workshops. Rather through conversations with colleagues attending the other workshops occurring throughout Week Three, my interest was peaked in using digital tools such as text mapping, GIS, and data visualization. I have already begun to consider what workshop(s) I would like to attend during DHSI 2016 as new research projects become further developed.

[1] The first five occurred during Weeks One and Two of the Summer Institute.