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Dr. J. L. Witt

Academic Interests:

I grew up in a small logging town in Western Washington, where I first took community college courses as a high schooler through the running start program. This initial exposure to higher education drew me toward a four-year university in Seattle where I continued my academic journey as an interdisciplinary studies major with a focus on history and political science. During my undergraduate program, I also participated in intercollegiate debate where I was able to travel around the country and world competing against some phenomenal speakers. This led me to a master's degree in Communication Studies with with a focus on Political Rhetoric and my first experiences coaching debate. My second stint in graduate school culminated with a master's in English (MATESOL), a PhD in Linguistics (SLAT ), my first experience teaching English courses, and my first job as a professor.

This journey included a lot of firsts for someone from rural Washington: first in my family to graduate with a BA, an MA, and a PhD and first to teach at any level. Like many first-generation college students, I struggled to navigate the structure and requirements of academia, but through the patience and kindness of a lot of professors, I was able to meet those challenges. As an educator, I always look for those students who need some extra help, a push do better, or just a little encouragement to know they belong and can meet the requirements of the class. 

I teach composition, grammar, the history of the English language, modern rhetorical criticism, and have coached a nationally competitive debate team. These themes and the addition of faith and parenting are a focus of my personal writings over the last 20 years. My research interests align with research on second language writing and debate & politics. 

Outside of the academy, I have a love of woodworking and technology. I have worked with cub scouts to build many, many pinewood derby cars and I am slowly learning to build furniture and cribbage boards. After teaching myself HTML/CSS and working as a QA tester for Intuit for two years, I continued to do tech work on the side as a webpage designer, debate tabulator, and manager of websites & social media for organizations and clubs I support. My son and I love watching shows about vintage technology and video games, and then tinkering with vintage tech from my bin of obsolete laptops and consoles. 

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