Campus Dean Calls Women to Lead

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Campus Dean Calls Women to Lead

March 30, 2015

Empowering women to be leaders isn't just part of my job, it's my vocation.

My mother and grandmother never made it past the 9th grade, but I stand here on the shoulders of them and other women who have lifted me up since my childhood. As a child growing up in Detroit, I was surrounded by strong women. What these women lacked in formal education, they made up for in grit, perseverance, and an unwavering belief in providing a better life for their children.

Throughout my life, female leaders have swooped in and propelled me to go further than I could have ever imagined. During my sophomore year of high school, my guidance counselor Fran—one of those amazingly warm grandmotherly types—had a conversation with me that would forever alter the course of my life. It went something like this:

Fran: Ann Marie, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Me: I want to be a waitress at a really fancy restaurant.

Fran: OK … tell me why you are best suited to do that?

Me: Uh, because I'm pretty good with people. I'm friendly. If I work at a nice restaurant, then I will probably make more money than at a diner.

Fran: (pauses, puts her hand on my knee, and thoughtfully looks at me) I think we can do better.

That weekend she drove me three hours across the state to the university where her brother was a professor. She told me I could be successful there and encouraged me to apply. That conversation in her office and the subsequent Saturday excursion are the moments when my life started to change.

Twenty years and four degrees later, I dispense the same advice to female students and staff.

I think we can do better.

This is my life's work. Through my job as NYIT-Manhattan dean for campus life, my scholarly research, and my outside work as a speaker, trainer, and consultant, I put my focus on helping women recognize the immense possibilities their life holds for them—if only they dare to embrace their talents and proudly claim them.

I work to be a "difference-maker" for our female students and staff—just like Fran was for me. It is an immense responsibility and privilege to help women find their voice and purpose and to motivate them to do the same for others.

I think we can do better. Don't you?