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Who Is Your Role Model?
January 30, 2011 - 10:00pm

Who is your academic or higher education role model? Who are you trying to model your career after?

Ana: Although I don't have a given professional or academic role model, I have had the chance to meet individuals that inspired me, by their professional integrity, ideas and core human values. Mostly, they are people trying to induce change and to make the world a better place, by promoting outstanding professional and intellectual achievements while keeping high ethical standards.

Rosalie: Dr. Carolina Hernandez. She did the seminal work on the Philippine military during Martial Law period and inspired me in that research direction. She's the successful academic who is also a policy mover; internationally-renowned but committed to mentoring young scholars. Her travel schedule is a killer as a Delta million-miler. Despite her stature, she’s very accessible as a person and extends assistance to scholars needing “introductions.” We hung out together several times in Tokyo in 2004 and had great conversations about balancing career and family.

Meg: My mother was a public school teacher. The passion and creativity she brought to her profession was infectious. She ensured that each student had the opportunity to succeed in her classroom, and offered them control over their own learning. She brought teams of instructors together to explore innovative teaching techniques. She trained teachers in her school district and in other districts. She seemed fearless to me.

Afshan: I have a few academic mentors, and friends. They are mostly people who have shown me that you can be a great researcher, a great teacher, and still be a mentor to your students. But I don’t think I have a role model. Certainly nobody I’m trying to model my career after. Is that strange? I have never actively charted out my career path, nor do I feel the need to.

Mary: I am encouraged by strong women who are seeking a new path within higher education, women who inspire me to fight the fight. In addition to the brave writers at UVenus, two women who come to mind immediately are Drew Gilpin Faust and Ruth Simmons. These women are not just the presidents of Harvard and Brown; they are passionate advocates for change who are creating a new vision for higher ed. Their pioneering work inspires me to do things differently and to make change happen, NOW!

Denise: I was very lucky to attend a grad program with a strong feminist political theory faculty--they did more than teach theory (incredibly well), they also modeled academic and professional behavior that I strive to emulate. One professor in particular, Mary Hawkesworth, was and is an incredible mentor: she let me know that she thought my work was important and interesting and she pushed me hard in my writing and research. It's because of Mary that my first book was published, and I can never tell her how grateful I am for all the support she's given me over the years. I hope someday to be that person for my students...

Deanna: My role models are reflective of the observations I've made from my time working in Graduate Studies. I admire Angela Failler for her research, Mavis Reimer for her communication style, Hinton Bradbury for his flair and quirkiness, Diana Brydon for her use of social media, Clare Bradford for the accomplishments which brought her to my campus, and finally, Mary Churchill with her ability to juggle so many roles and projects while still maintaining such a warm and approachable aura.

Anamaria: I do not have an academic role model. I am an improviser and a borrower of the worst kind: I don't even remember my sources. Always thankful for the inspiration that people, in general, give me every day.

Heather: My academic role model is Laura Patterson, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer at University of Michigan. In the early 1990s she saw the possibilities in combining technology and student records, and currently oversees complex administrative and research computing. I've never had the opportunity to meet her, but in my dreams, my career will follow a similar trajectory from Registrar’s Office to CIO.

Elizabeth: I have joked for some time that I am in the market for a role model, but I have yet to receive any offers. I have models - plural. Women I admire as great administrators, mentors, mothers, writers, or scholars. I can’t find one person who has done all things I want to do the way I want to do them in the same order or at the same time. Time for a reality check?

Itır: I actually do not have a role model or someone I am trying to model my career after. I am just trying to be the best version of myself as an academic. Honestly I don’t believe in role models because I believe one would learn a lot not only from the best but also the worst sides of others.

Lee: My role models are all outside higher education or followed a really nontraditional path (or both - see my post): one was my supervisor who also has a Masters in Law on top of a PhD in French, another has a PhD in history and started her own academic search firm, and the last has a PhD in Comparative Literature and is a mom/translator/lactation leader/teacher/writer/editor/publisher/activist/etc. My career doesn't resemble any of these three women's careers, but what I take from them is their bravery and ability to forge their own definition of success. If I can inspire one person the way they inspired me, then I'll consider my strange career a success.

Who is your role model? Who are you trying to model your career after? Add your comment below or tweet your answer to @UVenus and we will post it on the blog as a comment.


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