Dr. Catherine Clifford is taking Lamoni by storm with a great attitude about new experiences. Although she grew up in Dallas, she now finds herself in Lamoni, IA, excited about living in a small town for a change. Before this transition, she attended Oklahoma State with track and cross country scholarships, defying her parents who went to the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Clifford completed her post-grad work through the University of Birmingham abroad in England.
Why England, you ask? Dr. Clifford’s passion has been Shakespeare ever since seventh grade when she saw the Much Ado About Nothing film starring Keanu Reeves. Her interest in the sixteenth century playwright only increased as she attended college, where her English professor inspired her to become an English major.
Dr. Clifford considers herself to be “very lucky” to have found this job. “A Facebook friend and Graceland alum posted the job listing in January, and I was applying broadly so I took the chance,” she says. During her Graceland interview, the team asked her how she would feel about living in a small town, and she responded with enthusiasm about getting away from all of the people that make up a big city.
She’s maintaining those positive feelings even after living here for awhile. Dr. Clifford has a dog who she runs with often on the bike trail. She’s also been out to Nine Eagles State Park a few times and is training for ultra marathons (any race longer than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles). “The country roads are great for training and so much better than the running routes in Dallas,” she says.
However, Lamoni living hasn’t been all fun and games. Dr. Clifford received a proper Lamoni welcome one morning when she was awakened by a friendly bat in her bedroom. In retrospect, the ceiling fan probably didn’t help.
Aside from the bat visit, Dr. Clifford is fully embracing small town life, although she’s been warned to avoid the Coliseum and those movie-loving bat residents. She teaches two sections of Discourse one, which she loves because she gets to meet lots of freshmen who are new to Lamoni, just like her. She also teaches English Literature to 1800 and a topics course called “Deals With the Devil.”
Catherine loves her classes but appreciates the faculty even more. “I don’t know if students realize how lucky they are to have so many great professors in the Humanities Department that are excited about things we can do to be better professors and get students excited about what we are teaching,” Clifford says.
The importance of Humanitites wasn’t left unmentioned either. “The reason you get a liberal arts degre is because you will have a greater critical thinking emphasis. I tend to think that vocation is not the reason to choose a major. Choose what you’re interested in! There are plenty of vocational skills from an English degree. Fortune 500 companies are searching for candidates with Humanities degrees because they have such versatility.”
Teaching isn’t Dr. Clifford’s only passion. “My students would be surprised to learn that one of my favorite shows is ‘Little House on the Prairie,'” she laughs. “My sister and I used to always watch it on TBS after school.”
Dr. Clifford is currently in the middle of research on the early modern period, mainly Shakespeare, and focusing on space in royal palaces and places of performance. “I’m working on a book proposal for palaces in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It’ll definitely come up in class quite a bit!” Are you interested in places of performance in the early modern period or even what life on the prairie was like for for Laura Ingalls Wilder? Sign up for a Dr. Clifford class, or stop by Briggs to say hello!
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