Me at 4 of 5 years old.

I figured the best way to share my personal life was by doing so in photos, so I’m just going to talk about my life and put relevant photos in here and there where I see fit. Obviously, I’m not expecting anyone to really read this but if someone wanted to know a little bit about me, here is a short biography.

I was born in Cicinnati, Ohio in 1984 to my parents, Ron and Kathy Borders, who are still married to this day, a privilege that I do not take for granted. At the age of one we moved to Circleville, Ohio, home of the Circleville Pumpkin Show, for my dad’s job.  I grew up pretty much in a subdivision that my grandpa (dad’s dad) had built back in the 60s or 70s. I attended Pickaway Elementary school until I was 11 and then we moved across the county where I then went to school at Washington Elementary.

Throughout junior high and high school I was very much into drama and music. I performed in plays and musicals at Circleville’s local theater, Round Town Players. I was also in the marching band, choir, show choir, and was absolutely obsessed with languages. My junior year of high school I was the Vice-President of the French Club and eventually became the president of the French Club my senior year. During high school I had the opportunity to take not just French but also German and Latin through a program called distance learning. We didn’t have German and Latin at my school but we were able to take the course through a webcam, which was hooked up to a television. It was great for Latin, as it didn’t need much interaction, as for German, it wasn’t a good system.

My sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew.

I grew up in a pentecostal church and attended the Circleville Church of God until I was around 15 years old. My family left the church and we started to attend a Church of Christ in Christian Union Church that my sister’s then boyfriend (now husband) attended. His dad was the Dean of the Circleville Bible College, which is now known as Ohio Christian University. Yes, Circleville may only have around 12,000 people but it does have its own university. This isn’t surprising as it is said that Ohio has the most colleges and universities of any state in the US. I can see how this is true, there is a college or university in every single little town and big city in Ohio it seems.

After high school I went abroad to live in Belgium for a year as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. To this day, it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I lived in the southern part of Belgium in what is called Wallonia.

My dad and mom

There, the primary language is French. With the Rotary Program, an exchange student is sponsored by a Rotary Club in the origin country and hosted by a Rotary Club in the host country. Also Rotary Exchange Students stay with three different host families. I was sponsored by the Circleville Noon Rotary Club in Circleville. My host club in Belgium was the Chimay-Couvin Rotary Club, which comprised of two clubs from two small cities in the very south of the Hainaut region of Wallonia. My first host family, les Salmins-Collignons, lived in Forge-Philippe. My first host family literally lived 300 meters from the French border. My second host family, les Bastins, lived in Géronsart and my third host family Van de Walle, lived in a cute picturesque town called Nismes. My third host family comprised of a Flemish Dad from Gent and a French mom from the North of France.It was the only bilingual family that I had while in Belgium. My first two families were monolingual French.

Me in the kitchen of my first host family in Belgium, wearing my Rotary jacket.

At the end of the year in Belgium the exchange students had the opportunity to go on a Euro Tour. There were four different buses that left at four different times carrying exchange students from all around the world who had been living in Belgium for the past year. We were allowed to pick which bus we wanted to go on to be closer to our friends that we had made over the year. The trip took us from Liège, Belgium to Munich, Germany, Prague, Czech Republic, Salzbourg, Austria, Vienna, Austria, Venice, Italy, Florence, Italy, Pisa, Italy, Monaco, Nice, France, Avignon, France, Lyon, France, and then finally back to Belgium. It was a great ending to a great year. I met one of my best friends Diana there and we still keep in touch and talk often.

After my year in Belgium I began attending Columbus State Community College so I could take many of my general education credits cheaply before transferring to The Ohio State University. While attending CSCC, I worked full time at a place called “Calltech”. It was a call center. I worked for the Abercrombie and Fitch project. One of the worst jobs I have ever had! Eventually in spring of 2005 I transferred from CSCC to OSU.

Me with Brutus Buckeye

The first semester I was there I declared a French and Linguistics double major. I wouldn’t have declared a linguistics major if it had not been for “ratemyprofessor.com”. I was signed up to take a philosophy course and after looking on that website I saw that I would probably want to kill myself if I took the course with that particular professor. Not wanting to have a terrible first semester at OSU, I dropped the philosophy coure and signed up for an Introduction to Linguistics course. My TA, Annouschka Bergmann was amazing and from there the rest was history. I feel like I was destined to be a linguist.

Starting in the fall quarter of 2005 I moved into a residence hall because I wanted to have at least one year of dorm living experience in my life. Little did I know that I would be living in a dorm for the rest of my undergraduate career. I lived in Morrison Tower on OSU’s south campus in I-House, which is short for International House. It was a great experience, I lived with international minded Americans and people from all around the world. That first quarter I applied to be an RA for the following year, a process which takes almost the whole year.

Unexpectedly at the beginning of winter quarter, I was contacted by the Hall Director of Taylor Tower, an honors residence hall on OSU’s north campus. An RA had quit and they were looking to fill his position from those RA applicants for the following year with the highest GPA and best applications. I interviewed for the position and moved into Taylor Tower about a week after the interview. It was definitely difficult to be an RA after not having had the training that all the current RAs had had the previous year. I stuck it through and became an RA at Taylor the following year.

My senior year at OSU I was hired as an RM (resident manager). I was the resident manger for BHN, which was a dorm on north campus as well. Basically as an RM, I was responsible for running the front desk. I had to hire about 45 people and maintain this staff as well as three residence hall front desks. It was a challenging job but I really loved my staff that year and miss them all dearly. I also met another of my best friends at Ohio State, her name is Joan Berning. My whole experience in college would have been completely different if I had never met her. My life has never been the same and I love her so much and am glad to have her in my life!

Me and my friend Joan

After graduating from Ohio State I went abroad to teach English for nine months in the south west of France. I  was originally assigned a school in a tiny town of 6,000 people, called Soustons. I had picked the Bordeaux region as my number one choice because I wanted to live in the Basque Country. Unfortunately they didn’t have any primary school assistants in the Basque Country region so they tried to put me in the next best thing as close as possible, Soustons.

Me and Les Landais (people who live in Les Landes who invented stilts) the Department where my city in France was located

When I arrived to the train station in the nearest town that had a train station, Dax, I was greeted by my handler. She drove me to Soustons, dropped me off at a hotel where I had made reservations and said she would be back a few days later to see my progress on apartment hunting. I didn’t have any luck. The town of Soustons was a summer resort of sorts. The only available housing was rented out by the week and was way out of my budget. My handler, Mme. Dubroca realized it was going to be financially impossible for me to work in Soustons. The bus to get to Soustons from the bigger town of Dax would be way too expensive for me to live in Dax and commute everyday. She talked to her higher ups and got me transferred to a few schools in the towns of Dax and Saint-Paul-lès-Dax.

Me and my best friend from my exchange year in Belgium, Diana

She had already found housing for a few other English assistants in a student residence hall and was able to get me a room there as well (see even after OSU, I couldn’t escape living in a dorm). I ended up living right next door to a Canadian named Alissa. There was a Scottish guy, David, and a Jamaican girl, Georgia, who also lived in the residence hall. It was a good year and Alissa and I travelled as much as we could during our time off (and the French take a LOT of time off).

The following year I moved to Palma de Mallorca, Spain. A city on the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. I had applied to be an English assistant in Spain while I was living in France. Lucky for me, there were two Spaniards who were living in Dax at the time and were able to help me out with my application.

My year in Spain was a lot better than my year in France. In France, we assistants didn’t make very many friends among the French, but in Spain I made a ton of local and expat friends alike, through an organization called couchsurfing. My schools were both pretty far away and I had to pay around €26 a week to get to and from school. Luckily I found teachers who could drive me to one of my schools (the high school) or else I would have had to pay twice that. This, on a budget of €700/month.

When I first arrived to Palma I felt like I was in a scene from my favorite movie, “L’auberge espagnole”. The taxi dropped me off in this square and I couldn’t find my hostel. A person was leaning out their window smoking and asked me what I was looking for. I told them the name of my hostel and they pointed me in the right direction. In “L’auberge espagnole” Xavier arrives at the door the place he is staying in Barcelona and this old lady is on her balcony and asks him who he is looking for and she yells for the person.

I ended up initially finding an apartment with students who went to the local university. They were inconsiderate and dirty and unsocial and I decided I needed to find another place to live. I found an apartment with a nice Sicilian couple and their little French Bulldog. My life there had its ups and downs. Eventually a Moroccan girl moved in with us and we got along pretty well.  I had a really great time living in Mallorca and would love to return there someday. Maybe when I retire.

Me with the Palma de Mallorca sign.

At the beginning of my time in Mallorca I was busy applying for graduate schools. The University of Utah was the only school that was offering full funding for a Master’s degree. I was really interested in working with Lyle Campbell and so I accepted their offer. I moved out to Salt Lake City in August of 2010. Before moving out I had a friend of my sister’s who lives in Salt Lake City check out apartments for me since I wouldn’t be able to come and look for myself.

I also found out around two weeks before going to Utah that Lyle Campbell had taken a position at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. I wasn’t too worried about it but was a little bummed. I had gotten an offer to be a Teaching Assistant as well as a Graduate Research Assistant. I accepted both positions part time and taught an ESL course my first semester as well as worked as the Project Manager for the Shoshoni Language Project.

Me in my University of Utah hoodie.

I completed my Master’s Thesis research in Linguistics and graduated from the University of Utah on May 7, 2015. The title of my thesis is: The role of gender socialization and sibilants in the perception of gay- and straight-sounding voices: A study of returned Latter-day Saint missionaries in Utah.

While at Utah, I had the privilege of working with the Shoshone community of the Great Basin. As the Shoshoni Language Project Manager, I had the opportunity to help coordinate the Shoshone/Goshute Youth Language Apprenticeship Program that brought 10 Shoshone and Goshute high school students to the University of Utah for six weeks as interns to help create Shoshoni language revitalization materials and take a two-hour daily Shoshoni language course. We also provided professional and education development opportunities for these youth to prepare them for opportunities after they graduated high school, whether that was to pursue a career or a college/university degree.

Justin and Me

Justin and Me at the SYLAP end of the summer banquet in 2013!

Having the opportunity to work with these youth and building genuine relationships with them and many of the elders from the communities allowed me to reflect on what it was I truly wanted to do with my life. I had become disenchanted with the idea of pursuing a career as a tenure track professor in linguistics. Having had the student affairs experience in undergrad and realizing that these Shoshone students needed more support when it came to gaining access to higher education, I decided that I should look into pursuing a degree in higher ed.

I applied to a few schools that had really good reputations for Master’s degrees that focused on higher education and student affairs. I attended interviews for assistantships and was accepted to one of the most prestigious programs in Higher Ed and Student Affairs, the College Student Personnel M.A. Program at Bowling Green State University (BGSU).

Me with Frieda and Freddy Falcon

Me with Frieda and Freddy Falcon

I began my studies at BGSU in August of 2014 while still working on editing my thesis from the U. I workd as the Graduate Coordinator for Diversity Education in the Office of Multicultural Affairs. I graduated from BGSU in May of 2016.

I currently work as the Resident Hall Director for the Language House at Cornell University. The Language House is a living-learning community of six languages that provides an immersion experience to students who live there.  The job was made for someone with my background and experience. It only took 13 days from me applying to the job for me to accept the offer for the position. My plans are to stick around here for a while and build the Language House Program up. I’m considering pursuing a PhD in Africana Studies at Cornell through the employee degree program, which would completely fund my degree.