Born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, I spent my senior year of high school in West Germany as a Youth for Understanding exchange student from 1984-1985. Having attended the University of Minnesota for one year, I then lived in the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany) for six months from 1986-1987 and Denmark for a few months thereafter. There I studied GDR politics, history, Russian and in Denmark attended classes at the University of Aarhus.

I funded my undergraduate education teaching German part-time, waitressing and working as a word processor in a bank. My Bachelor of Arts was in German, Russian, and history (three majors and a minor), so I then began graduate work in history in 1993.

In 1999 I started my own business, first inspired by my love of dance, and later inspired by my love of animals. In 2019 I am still online and am able to significantly contribute to our family income.

Having graduated in 2004 with my Ph.D. in History, I remained home as planned, to recover from the trauma my topic had caused for me and to care for my children. Fighting the stereotype of being an over-educated mother who was “just” wiping butts, I wrote encyclopedia articles, kept my business going and home-schooled my children for parts of their elementary years.