Dr. Heidi Harris was born in Alexandria, Minnesota but spent most of her younger years in rural northern Arkansas. She was a first-generation college student who desired to be either a journalist or run for a political office.
It wasn’t until her senior year in college that she considered teaching at the university level. Harris mentions that prior to college she didn’t know that she could be a university professor. “I never met anyone who was a professor growing up in rural Arkansas,“ Harris says.
After teaching as a graduate teaching assistant at Missouri State University, Harris decided that teaching college-level writing was what she wanted to do, and after three years teaching at MSU full-time, she went on to get her Ph.D. in English at Ball State University.
After finishing her coursework at Ball State, Dr. Harris worked as an instructional designer for the online program at Ozarks Technical College where she first developed her passion for online education. She honed that passion at Eastern Oregon University as an Assistant Professor and Coordinator of Innovative Teaching Initiatives. However, Harris always had her eye on UA Little Rock.
“I knew about the Professional and Technical Writing Program [at UALR] for years, and when my current job opened, I jumped at the opportunity to work here,” says Harris.
Dr. Harris is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing. She coordinates the Graduate Certificate in Online Writing Instruction and teaches creative nonfiction, technical writing, and rhetoric.
“I am surrounded by hardworking, intelligent students who are kind and funny. And my colleagues are supportive, hardworking, and distinguished in our academic field,” says Harris. “This is my dream job!”
Helping students become better writers shapes Dr. Harris. One of her goals as a parent is to “raise strong, smart, empathetic children who will be a positive force in the world!” Harris wants to help her online students “graduate and get good jobs so that they can do the same for their children.”
Harris mentions that part of helping students succeed means not only teaching and advising students but also creating better online courses and programs for student success.
“Every time I congratulate a student who has just defended his or her master’s thesis, see our alumni or students start new careers or see a student publish a story they have worked hard to craft, their success inspires me to be a better teacher,”says Harris.
Dr. Harris considers herself lucky to work at UA Little Rock, and we are just as lucky to have her!