Michele Covington

I grew up in a rural area. We were under-resourced but I didn't know that as a kid. I always had good food and love and was generally protected from grown-up problems when I was very young. I never aspired to be a professor-- I didn't dare. I was a first generation college student. I can remember a time when I thought it would be like a dream come true if I could just be independent, maybe be a bank teller and have my own one-bedroom apartment. After a lot of screwing up in my early adulthood (and being given LOTS of grace by LOTS of people), and after having dropped out of college twice to go "find myself," I found the criminal justice field and never looked back. It doesn't get more fascinating that real-life good vs. evil. School always came easy to me (as opposed to everything else in life, like being coordinated, or social), so after I settled down I just kept going! After my Master's I went and worked in the policing field for a while, then ended up getting funding to go for my PhD and completed that with the help of my new husband. We had our first of three children while I was trying to write my dissertation! I NEVER thought I would teach. Even in grad school I thought I would go into a full-time research position. God knew the whole time, and continually tried to tell me but I didn't listen for the longest. Eventually I gave in and took a university faculty position. Best decision ever. It's a powerful thing to go to work and, even on the days you might not really feel like being there, know that that is where you are supposed to be. It was always the plan for me to go into academia. Looking back now it's easy to see, but it's never easy to see the plan when you're in the midst of it! Now I find that I can use my life's struggles to relate to my students, and I get a chance to pass on a little of the grace that I've been extended over the years when they are having tough times. It's an amazing job.

My Life

Favorite Quote

Just one? I don't like choosing one of anything. I really love this Bible verse and find it very motivating when I'm tired or when people get me down: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."--Galatians 6:9, NIV. Also, here's a gem that is often attributed to Albert Einstein but actually came from a sociologist named William Bruce Cameron: "Not everything that counts can be counted." That's good advice-- I don't care who you are!

Friends describe me

as kind and creative. And sarcastic.

My hobbies

Who has time for that when you have 3 kids under 10?! But in my former life, I enjoyed reading non-work related stuff and hiking. Generally pretty introverted stuff. I'm trying a bit of simple jewelry-making now when I can.

Fantasy dinner guests

Probably my grandparents and great-grandparents that I've lost? I wish I had spent more time learning about their histories. Also C.S. Lewis and Chris Farley. It would be a really weird dinner.

Best advice I ever received

It's important to know when to say no, but it's also important to know when you say yes.

My undergrad alma mater

Lander University in Greenwood, SC

My worst subject in school

PE!!

In college I drove

an old light blue Nissan, which was lovingly dubbed "the rustbucket"

If I weren't a professor, I would

hmm...probably do something in emergency services? Maybe still policing? Maybe EMS?

Favorite books

The Bible. I'm into some apologetics stuff right now, like Tim Keller and Nabeel Qureshi. Always C.S. Lewis. He is absolutely brilliant and nothing can rival all of the layers in his work, especially the Screwtape Letters and the Chronicles of Narnia. For work, I read a lot, too, but even though I enjoy my job, I wouldn't put those as favorite books...they're generally about people doing bad stuff to each other and how to try to stop people from doing bad stuff to each other.

Favorite movies

I am at a point in my life where most of what I watch is animated, so right now I'm a fan of Incredibles 2. In terms of "grown up movies," I like both the Justice League and Marvel franchises (yes, I know they are competitors...if I have to pick I go Justice League because it has Wonder Woman, who I loved before it was cool), and some older stuff like When Harry Met Sally. It's a genius social commentary. I'm a big fan of quick, witty humor.

Favorite city

wherever my husband and kids are...I know it sounds lame, but it's true. Also, I really miss living near the beach like I did in grad school. But not enough to leave the Upstate, which is totally awesome.

Favorite coffee

ice cold with chocolate and sugar in it!

Nobody knows I

umm...if I shared this, then everybody would know it...?

My latest accomplishment

I just won the USC Upstate Faculty Excellence in Service Award!! I'm so excited!! Also, I just submitted a journal article manuscript for review, which I consider quite a feat on a 4/4 + summer teaching load!

Current Research

Let's see...I am in the process of writing the first ever undergraduate textbook on guns! I am doing a lot of research towards the new course set on crime analysis that I'm creating. And I'm writing a textbook chapter with a department colleague on mass shootings at colleges and universities. I'm also doing a project evaluation in Spartanburg on including creativity in the preschool classroom. This is not my regular area as I usually research violence and law enforcement topics, but I worked with these same groups on another project evaluation and they were so awesome that when they asked me again, I decided I'd just teach myself about the preschool classroom to work with them again! It's been very enlightening. It's not a bad thing to get out of your main area now and again. It keeps you on your toes. 🙂