ADHD Among Faculty (and Me)

Professors with ADHD can be brilliant in lectures and interested in students, but struggle to implement systems to get the more mundane, but necessary, tasks done – like uploading syllabi to the university server on time, clearing out that email inbox, and keeping grade logs up-to-date (Dixon Life).

You mean to tell me there are others out there? Professors with ADHD? I don’t know how many exactly, since most of the web pages that come up when looking for stats on professors with ADHD are all about college students with ADHD and professors who don’t know how to teach them. Luckily, I found this quote from a Life Coach website as I was searching for a strong epigraph.

Indeed, my email box is bursting at the seams. I’m not behind on papers though, not too bad, since I’ve realized I’m most efficient when I grade no more than 2-3 papers at a time, even if it means marking two papers before yoga and two papers after yoga. Probably one of the most obvious signs of my ADHD that (luckily) is only visible to my students, is the never ending collection of documents and presentations they must sift through in order to find the reading due for next class. My Course Documents section on Blackboard is not unlike a never-ending Facebook page with items ranging from PowerPoints on Detailed Writing to psychology articles to poems to YouTube interviews. “You’ll find it in there somewhere,” I always say.

Let’s see…what else gives me away? 1. My fidgeting during meetings. 2. My inability to wear a blazer or a pencil skirt. I still rock my Vans, thank you. Why can’t athliesure wear be considered professional attire? 3. The fake smile I wear on the days I feel I really shouldn’t be in the world. aka working while you’re depressed 4. My imposter syndrome. 5. The raucous music I listen to very loudly as I park my car amongst the students. 6. My own lectures bore me, even if my polite and non-neuro-divergent students assure that it was in fact very interesting and helpful. 7. My long uncut hippie hair. 8. My MFA. 9. My addiction to exercise. Must have more dopamine! 10. My bleeding cuticles, picked and chewed by yours truly–a sign of a) a boring day b) a scary stressful day.

While I wear some red flags throughout my day to day, and I know my “intense, hyperfocused” energy can be a lot for my colleagues, students seem attracted to it like moths to the floodlight out back. Indeed, maybe we are “brilliant in lectures;” probably because we can’t bear to bore ourselves. I don’t eat lunch during my 4 class stretch, just coffee. “It’s an adventure to get through them all! It’s a workout. Must complete this mission,” I explain to my worried husband. He doesn’t understand that in order to get through 4 classes, they must be the most exciting classes ever, the freshest, most innovative, most engaging, the most exhausting! There’s no time to sit and eat.

Alas, I still have to rely PowerPoint for some things.

I do hit the neuro-typical marks though. I get high evaluation scores. Good feedback from the higher ups. I do my best to help my department’s sense of community. I turn in my paper work ahead of the deadlines. I have good manners. I try to go to events (probably I don’t do enough of this). Yet, I still feel that I don’t belong. Regardless of the fact that my psychiatrist literally just said to me, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing everything society wants you to do.” I am, aren’t I? I really am.

Then, why do I feel so isolated? Why do I feel like I’ve been carrying around this big dark hole of a secret in my chest for ten years? What if I just sent out an email to the department listserv: Dear colleagues. You know how I’m always awkward? You know how I’m always hyper? You know how at meetings I always have my hand up? You know how one minute I’m sharing ideas like a boss and the next I’m hiding behind “camera off” so I can be curled up in a ball under a blanket feeling like I’m all wrong during a Zoom meeting? Well, it’s because I have ADHD. I have it, you guys. An ADHD-er has infiltrated your ranks of higher education, and I’m here to bring it down to Earth level with my learning disability. Also, I’d like you all to know how much I have struggled to get here and stay here. PS-I know I should apply for a senior lectureship, but my social anxiety keeps me from doing so. Thanks! Have a great week. Best, Prof. HM.

Clearly, I can’t send out this crazy email. But, can I disclose my disability? To whom could I disclose it too? Should I disclose it? Should academic institutions know when their faculty have learning disabilities? Does it matter. Should it? Why do I need to disclose this? Would this even help me?

I know it helps my students to disclose. They are offered extra time and frankly, more grace. I don’t think I need more time, but maybe some grace?

Okay, fine, not grace, but how about a resource or a sense of community for neuro-divergent educators? There’s got to be a place and a space for us somewhere in higher ed. Supposedly, ADHD is a superpower. Imagine if higher ed harnessed that power.

FYI this is my first time publishing on this blog for years. I don’t even know if I had kids when I last published. I’m excited and curious what’s to come. Thanks for reading.

Anthology Publication

I am so honored to be featured in the prestigious and relevant anthology, Feminine Rising: Voices of power and Invisibility.

Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility brings together international poets and essayists, both award winning and emergent, to answer these questions with raw, honest meditations that speak to women of all races, nationalities, and sexual orientations. It is an anthology of unforgettable stories both humorous and frightening, inspirational and sensual, employing traditional poetry and prose alongside exciting experimental forms. Feminine Rising celebrates women’s differences, while embracing the source of their sameness–the unique experience of womanhood.

My two poems, “DR: La Republica Dominicana” and “A Poem for the Waitresses on First Street” are featured in the book.


New Poems Published

I’m so pleased to announce that three of my poems, “Slots,” “Scraping” and “Make a Decision” have been published in Barking Sycamores Literary Magazine Issue 13.

Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project.

Barking Sycamores Issue 13


The Truth About Stereotypes in Schools

A stereotype as defined by Merriam-Webster is “an often unfair and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic.” Colloquially, the term, stereotype, “is used to categorize a group of people. People don’t understand that type of person, so they put them into classifications, thinking that everyone who is that needs to be like that, or anyone who acts like their classifications is one” (Urban Dictionary).

Stereotypes do affect student performance. Students in a social, academic or professional environment are confronted with stereotypes about themselves and about others. Stereotyping is a double edged sword that harms both the stereotyped and the “stereotyper.” Robin Paige explains, “The threat of possibly satisfying or confirming a negative stereotype attached to one’s identity can interfere with a subject’s academic performance.” Stereotypes, negative or positive ones, influence identity development and degrade performance. One may be preoccupied with not fulfilling a common stereotype or with learning to fulfill the stereotype.

Interestingly, the pressure to stereotype or the pressure not to stereotype affects students too. Studies show that the fear of appearing racist can hurt a student’s performance due to over-preoccupation or anxiety.

It is not just the art or act of stereotyping that inhibits performance, but also the “stereotype threat.” The threat of stereotype hides in social expectations, showing itself in the anxiety and behaviors of students. There is the fear of enacting a stereotype. For example, an African American student might spend more time getting ready in the morning than her white peers; she may strive too hard to not appear “ghetto.” Or, a male student in a mostly female group might expend too much energy trying not to sound sexist rather than focusing on a successful collaboration. These two examples may not seem like a big deal, but this all adds up to reduced productivity and social insecurity.

The fear of being excluded from a stereotype is just as influential to a person’s development. There may be increased susceptibility to embody a stereotype because of various cultural and peer pressures. A student may be less likely to ask a question aloud in class if he/she is expected to behave a certain way. For instance, a student that skateboards may feel pressure to appear disinterested or like a “burn out” due to the slacker-skater stereotype. Or, a blonde female may act in-authentically “ditzy.” A football player may be more reluctant to sign up for a poetry class because of the classic stereotype that football players must be “tough.”

It’s easy to blame the media and history for these stereotypes; it’s not quite as easy to blame institutions, architecture, peers, teachers, friends and family. The truth is that the stereotypes are encouraged in some of the most subtle ways. Something as pragmatic and routine as a uniform policy that requires skirts for girls and pants for boys unwittingly discourages females from partaking in more physical activities. Watching a film in class that displays the token black comedian character can instigate a stereotype threat. The design of a gym can encourage stereotyping by playing Oprah reruns in the cardio zone and ACDC in the weightlifting zone. This socially conveys the stereotype that only women do cardiovascular exercise and that only men weightlift.

These types of social orders (like enforcing a uniform) seem to bring us comfort and structure, but the truth is they solidify some of the worst stereotypes. Educators can lower the level of stereotype threat by acknowledging the problem of stereotyping throughout his/her curriculum. For example, I am currently in the process of creating a writing prompt for my students that requires them to investigate a stereotype through observation and interview. With this assignment, I hope the students will learn about the impacts of stereotyping.

To further combat the stereotype threat, I make use of social anomalies that subvert typical expectations. Joe Biden is an unexpected example of a feminist, as he is a “white privileged male,” who also made the Violence Against Women Act a reality as well as the Women’s Treaty. Biden erases the stereotype that white privileged males don’t care about women’s rights. An interview with Cara Delevingne can subvert the stereotype that women aren’t funny. Recognizing the literary and poetic elements of rap eradicates the stereotype that black men are unintellectual.

Next to anti-stereotype assignments, an educator can create a classroom environment that calls for inclusivity, embracing diverse subject matters, encouraging collaboration and validating the injuries caused by stereotypes (including various prejudices or self-preserved limitations).  Most importantly, building the self-confidence of students helps to eliminate stereotypes. The more a student discovers his/her individualized self, the less preoccupied he/she will be with fitting into or not fitting into the tiny box called stereotype.

For life hacks, headlines and home design, please visit my other blog,



How Fowler Gives Me Power: Reflections on Susan J. Fowler’s Reflecting on One Very Strange Year at Uber

Susan J. Fowler, a former employee of Uber, published a post on her blog revealing numerous counts of sexual harassment and discrimination she experienced while working for the company. Her post is straightforward and pretty bias-free; her tone is calm, but frank. While some of her experiences at the company might appall readers, her author’s voice is very professional, leaving readers to interpret the anecdotes for themselves. Her tone is not accusatory; it is forthright.

She bluntly, but neutrally tells, On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR. Fowler does not stop and slander the harasser, instead she lets the anecdote speak for itself.

Throughout her post she conveys numerous work place encounters and professional obstacles that illustrate sexism and discrimination. Impressively, in the chaos of her work environment, Fowler managed to document most of the discriminatory behaviors.

She discloses, I don’t know what I expected after all of my earlier encounters with them [HR], but this one was more ridiculous than I could have ever imagined. The HR rep began the meeting by asking me if I had noticed that *I* was the common theme in all of the reports I had been making, and that if I had ever considered that I might be the problem. I pointed out that everything I had reported came with extensive documentation and I clearly wasn’t the instigator (or even a main character) in the majority of them – she countered by saying that there was absolutely no record in HR of any of the incidents I was claiming I had reported (which, of course, was a lie, and I reminded her I had email and chat records to prove it was a lie). She then asked me if women engineers at Uber were friends and talked a lot, and then asked me how often we communicated, what we talked about, what email addresses we used to communicate, which chat rooms we frequented, etc. – an absurd and insulting request that I refused to comply with. When I pointed out how few women were in SRE, she recounted with a story about how sometimes certain people of certain genders and ethnic backgrounds were better suited for some jobs than others, so I shouldn’t be surprised by the gender ratios in engineering. Our meeting ended with her berating me about keeping email records of things, and told me it was unprofessional to report things via email to HR.

Fowler’s logical and procedural tone boosts her credibility, highlighting the prejudice in Uber’s tactics. By the end of this paragraph, Uber’s HR is demonstrably in the wrong. The HR rep overgeneralizes here, “she recounted with a story about how sometimes certain people of certain genders and ethnic backgrounds were better suited for some jobs than others.” The HR also gives counterproductive feedback when she said, “it was unprofessional to report things via email to HR.” A person involved in Human Resources should appreciate any form of professional communication, especially a form that can be documented with potential to prove anything.

Fowler’s Uber post inspired me to flip back through the pages of my own career where I recalled numerous encounters with sexual harassment in the work place and at school. As a teenager and a young college student/waitress, I disregarded the systematic sexism of many institutions not because it didn’t affect me but because: a) I was too busy surviving (getting high…getting high grades I mean, paying rent, catching waves) and b) the sexist behavior was common and mostly accepted.

However, if my present self replaced my younger self, I could have protected my identity development from corrosive impacts of sexist behavior and discriminatory practices by pointing out the sexism or by removing myself from prejudiced systems. Unlike Fowler, I did not have the wherewithal to document harassment nor did I have the confidence to even point it out. Notably, I was also much younger and vulnerable, without a college degree, without the clout and professional knowledge of a cooperate engineer.

In line with Fowler though, I am writing from a place of reflection. I’d like to write an honest and open letter about my past experiences with certain companies and institutions. In other words, I’d also like to tell my story, and I’d like it to come from a place of truth not judgement. Fowler doesn’t “badmouth” Uber; she discloses and informs.

I would like to do the same. So, what’s stopping me? Am I worried that some bar & grill might fire me if I reveal a few anecdotes about discriminatory uniforms? Will my high school kick me out for talking “sh*t” about a pervy coach? Is my sexist graduate professor going to fail me if I write about this one time he wanted to come to my house? Technically, the answer to all these questions is no. I’m fully grown, with a career and a strong support structure, so I should be able to communicate a few memories without fear…right?

This is not the case. Divulging testimonies of sexist practices from my past does ignite a small fear in me. As I critically analyze this fear, I can see that it is emotional residue left over from the days when I was powerless and dependent on sexist structures.

What do you think? Please comment.

This article was first published on