Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My ambitious dream career

For some people the last time the phrase "my dream career" actually meant something, was when they were 6. For me though, I've discovered a new dream.  I don’t know how I ended up being obsessed with this career, but I remember the first spark. 

I read the Chronicle of Higher Education regularly and love how it is centered on what makes up the major part of my life: higher education.  One day I saw this article, “The Look of Leadership in the Ivy League”, and my mind was… well, not really blown, but I was surprised; in a good way.

Out of 8 Ivy League schools, the presidents of 5 of them are women. Amy Gutmann (Penn) , Shirley Tilghman (Princeton), Drew Faust (Harvard), Carol Folt (recently moved from Dartmouth to UNC Chapel Hill) and Christina Paxon (Brown).  Think about it for a second. We hear every day how little the participation of women is in leadership roles, even though they now make up about half of the labor force in the nation, and yet in many of the most prestigious universities in the nation women take the lead.

Higher education (and grad school more so) honestly has not ended up being my most pleasant experience so far. Male-dominated environment, (sometimes) low quality of core lectures, uncharted responsibility of advisors and students, and several more issues make the scientific challenge of PhD seem like a minor issue. But I believe the school can help and the leadership makes a difference. I believe there is a lot more to administrative positions in higher education. And guess what? I feel like I finally have a career that I can dream about. 

It took me some introspection to recall how I have always had an open eye to examine a school, or university, as a system and see it the way a critic does. Furthermore, being a practical person (engineer mentality), I was always looking for a solution for whatever flaw that I observed. Combine it with my passion for teaching; you see where it took me.  I do not obsess over being a university president (however, that’s my favorite); all I care is to be at a position to plan, change and improve an educational complex. I literally day dream about that every day now. And without even having to search a lot, I already have 5 role models right in front of my eyes; one of them a few blocks away.

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