Faculty member finds a home at Lakeland
This semester, Tayler Otten, a junior majoring in English and creative writing, is creating content for the Lakeland blog, as well as the social media pages for Lakeland’s School of Humanities & Fine Arts. This is the latest in a series of blog stories she’s written.
While Alexis Pegram-Piper is in her first year as an assistant professor of composition at Lakeland University, it’s not her first time teaching at LU. From 2015-2017, she was an adjunct professor of composition. Even after moving on to a teaching position at UW-Whitewater for five years, she knew she wanted to come back to the university that started it all.
“Over six years ago I worked at Lakeland in a part-time, tenuous capacity as an adjunct instructor of composition, not making very much money and not having any real stability,” Lexi said. “This is the nature of adjunct labor and I'm grateful for the experience and the employment … I know I'm still in my honeymoon phase at Lakeland, but I do feel like I've found that home and community that I envisioned years ago.”
Growing up, Lexi didn’t originally have the desire to become a professor. In fact, her mom, a high school English teacher, encouraged her not to follow the teaching path. Although she loved to read and learn, Lexi wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her passion. But life gave her a small hint in the form of a career test in seventh grade. According to the test, she was meant to become a college professor.
Lexi discovered her passion for writing at a young age. In fourth grade, her mom encouraged her to enter a writing contest. Much to her surprise, her crafted story about a Japanese owl brought her a win both in the contest and in her confidence. She recognizes this moment as being one of many that encouraged her that writing is the path she should pursue.
However, the moment she attributes to her confidence in teaching stems from her time at Marian University as a student. Her English professor encouraged her to become a writing tutor and her Philosophy professor created and hired her as a teaching assistant, providing Lexi with her first teaching position. The support and encouragement of her professors built Lexi’s confidence as an educator and reassured her that this was the right career path.
“I was raised to be humble,” Lexi said. “If you need to brag about it, it's probably not all that great in the first place. However, over the years I have worked hard to become a strong, skilled educator. I am a good teacher because I know that what we do as educators, and especially as educators of the arts and humanities, is vital now more than ever.”
Lexi has also received confirmation of her teaching abilities from her students. When working as a professor at UW-Whitewater, Lexi received her highest honor of her career: an award for exemplary teaching voted on by students. Students acknowledged that she went above and beyond for them. To this day, the award hangs on a wall in her office as a reminder of her passion for students and their success.
Lexi values community and the connections made between peers. When she was a student at Marian University, she enjoyed her time spent with her teammates the most. As a softball, soccer, and volleyball player, she reveled in the feeling of belonging somewhere, with people who shared her interests and goals. This value translated into her career goal: to get a tenure position at a university. And she succeeded.
Lexi recalls her time as an adjunct professor at Lakeland and looking at the wall of tenured professors.
“I would climb the stairs up to the third-floor shared adjunct office space in WAK 310, and I would daydream of something more,” she said. “I would see the names and office locations of the full-time tenured and tenure-track professors framed in the stairwell and I would envision my name there. I would envision a home and a community.”
And now she’s here and she couldn’t be happier. She loves the intimate class sizes Lakeland has to offer. She loves the closeness she has with her colleagues. She even loves coming to work in the middle of a cornfield. As a Wisconsin native, Lexi has always felt at peace in nature, so it seemed only fitting to work at the university that could offer her both nature and community.