In college, I started as a theater major before moving to the Spanish department, where I focused on theater and film studies in a foreign language. Since producing speech was difficult for me, why not try to do so in a foreign language? It was the most difficult major I could have picked, but also the most challenging and diverse. After I graduated, I went straight to grad school—partly out of fear of choosing a career path and partly to prove how very wrong everyone had been about my academic prospects. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the degree, but I loved what I was studying, so I kept going.
Midway through my masters studies, I became restless. Spending all my time reading and writing, much of it on a computer squinting at articles scanned from old, faded books and bad photocopies, was not as fulfilling as I had thought it would be. I had loads of digital work, pages upon pages of writing and research, but it wasn’t feeling like achievement. The daughter of a carpenter, I grew up on a farm and was used to physical labor, the results of which are tangible. I wanted to do something hands-on.