Before They Were Educators: Dr. Kenneth Price

(Editor’s Note: The following is the ninth part of a series of articles looking at the lives of WCU faculty and staff before they were educators.)

Before becoming an Assistant Professor of English at Western Carolina University, Kenneth Price moved around the country from Texas to Alaska, to California and Missouri following his profession.     

Price grew up in Midland, Texas where he was surrounded by flat land, dust storms, blistering weather, and the desert.

“It was awful,” said Price.

Growing up, Price was a trouble maker from his start at elementary school until his graduation day of high school.

“As a kid I was precocious, and bored with school. I got licks every year from elementary school until high school,” said Price.

Growing up in Midland, Texas Price learned how to work on the farm and take care of his unique animals which included rabbits, owls, and even an alligator.

Price made his first source of income from working on the farm. He drove tractors and picked cotton in order to pay for his first car which he paid in full and in cash.

Besides working on the farm, Price aspired to become a scientist and was interested in Biology.

“If I had to do it over again I would seriously consider going to med school,” he said.

However, Price also developed a love of reading at an early age. He read at a high reading level and he began to enjoy novels by Steven King, Hemmingway, and Flannor O’ Connor.

“I read the exorcist in the third grade. Very age appropriate,” Price said jokingly.

Price’s passion for reading led him to major in English at the University of North Texas and Angelo State University. During his last semester at the University of North Texas, Price decided he needed a change of scenery. He transferred to Angelo State University and graduated in 1990; two years later and with 160 hours.

“When I got a PhD the feeling was hard to describe. Graduating was something I never thought I would do. I had already accomplished more than I ever thought I would, so I thought everything from there would be a breeze,” he said. “But it wasn’t, nothing ever is.”

Price began his first job as a senior medical writer/editor at the University of Texas Medical Branch. From there he continued to travel around Texas teaching at different Universities. He then lived in Missouri from 1996-1999. In 1999 he moved to California where he taught at California State University and traveled to National Parks.

“California was like space travel. It was a whole different planet,” he said.

Then in 2003 Price moved to Anchorage, Alaska where he was an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

“Alaska was terrible. It was cold, dark and depressing. I felt somewhat claustrophobic because there was one road into Alaska and one road out,” he said.

In 2006, Price landed at his favorite state, North Carolina. A colleague from Alaska knew the Chairman of the English Department at WCU, and recommended Price for a position. Besides being awarded a Special Award of Excellence in Education from California State University, WCU has been his favorite place to live and teach.

Price has found that the area is a great place to raise his 5 year old son. He is also happy at WCU.

“I love teaching here and living here. I love what I teach and I love the area. I even love my students, well for the most part,” he said.