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Climbing the Career Ladder

Climbing the Career Ladder

“It’s lonely at the top,” is probably an overused phrase, but like most clichés there’s usually a bit of truth. The college presidency, although surrounded by a team of people, can often be an isolating position. Who are their confidantes? Who really knows on campus what it’s like to have the weight of the institution on your shoulders? In this edition, we are focusing on women minority college presidents.

Diverse correspondent Patricia Valdata interviewed six presidents representing various types of institutions, from the community college to the HBCU. These impressive women discuss their leadership philosophies and challenges. Some also weigh in on the unique situations they find themselves in as both women and minorities.
As society changes, so do the demands for specific jobs and careers. The feature article, “Handling ‘Helicopter Parents,’” is a good example. Contributing editor Lydia Lum introduces us to the world of parent coordinators, a position that may be coming to a campus near you, if it’s not there already. Baby boomers are so prone to hover around their children that they have been tagged with the nickname “helicopter parents.” Writes Lydia: “Boomers see no reason why that hands-on approach should change just because their children have moved out of the house and onto campus.”

Interviewed for the article, Dr. Gwendolyn J. Dungy, executive director of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, says it’s smart for universities to have such a staff person. “Imagine if you are a parent, calling the school, going from person to person to get an answer, always getting referred to someone else. Instead, here’s a specific place to go with your issues,” Dungy says.

As we continue to explore careers in this annual special report, Diverse correspondent Kerri Allen takes a comprehensive look at the Teach For America program. We profile two former TFA teachers with experiences that could not be more different. Joshua Kaplowitz, assigned to an elementary school in Washington, D.C., feels strongly that TFA did not adequately prepare him to teach in an inner city classroom.  On the other hand, Lizette Suxo, assigned to an elementary school in the South Bronx, enjoyed the experience so much, she went on to earn her master’s in education and is now a principal at a charter school in Brooklyn. Some of the challenges that TFA teachers face are no different than those of first-year teachers assigned to similar schools. However, because it is a formal program, expectations on behalf of TFA teachers appear to be not only different but also higher.

Lastly, but certainly not least, Diverse contributing editor Dina Horwedel reports on the efforts of organizations to get more Hispanic students to consider the STEM disciplines early on — as in before college. Organizations such as the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science are working on initiatives that would target students as early as preschool.

In this edition, we also have an interview with Dr. Ronald Williams, outgoing president of Prince George’s Community College; and reports on SREB’s annual minority doctoral scholars meeting, as well as efforts of University of California officials to improve diversity in a state hampered by the anti-affirmative action law Prop. 209.

Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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