The Catholic University of America

March 18, 2010

CUA Students Explore Career Paths with Female Faculty

Carole Staley Collins, who joined CUA’s nursing faculty last year, talks with juniors Samantha Alves (center) and Stephanie Balceniuk.

They came to meet Catholic University’s women faculty members, and they left with answers to questions about their studies and information about possible careers.

About 50 students — both men and women — mingled with female faculty members in a special event March 17 to mark Women’s History Month.

As juniors, Samantha Alves and Stephanie Balceniuk are thinking increasingly about their careers, which motivated them to attend “Forging Our Future: Women Making History at CUA” at the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center.

“I thought it was a nice idea to connect with female faculty who can balance both work and home life,” Alves said.

Balceniuk, a psychology major from Doylestown, Pa., said she’s begun to think more about the future. “It’s something that I’ve found more and more important — to see how other people have done it and how they have succeeded.”

Alves, a social work major from Gloucester, Mass., is considering graduate school and was seeking advice about continuing her education, dealing with student loans and eventually finding a job.
“It’s great to talk to people who already have been through it,” Balceniuk added.

The two, who are resident assistants, recognized one particular faculty member. Carole Staley Collins, assistant professor of nursing and an academic adviser, had visited their residence hall. Staley Collins said she valued the networking event because it gave her a chance to meet students individually and make connections.

About 40 other female faculty members talked with students about their careers and gave them advice on how to launch their own. The 40 follow in the footsteps of Regina F. Herzfeld, the first woman faculty member at CUA. A teaching assistant in the Department of Anthropology beginning in 1933, Herzfeld became an instructor in the department in 1936.

Teresa Walsh, assistant professor of nursing, shares information on courses with Caitlin Heston, a freshman from Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Forging Our Future: Women Making History at CUA” was sponsored by the Women’s Faculty Collaborative and the Division of Student Life.  Members of the Women’s Faculty Collaborative, who have been meeting on a regular basis for several years to discuss matters of relevance to women in academia, “felt that Women’s History Month would be the perfect setting to provide a forum where they could encourage students, particularly women students, to explore career options,” said Patricia McMullen, associate provost for academic administration and associate professor of nursing.

“I love talking to people about what I do,” said Gael Montgomery, a lecturer of Italian in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures.

Duilia de Mello, associate professor of physics and an astronomer, agreed. In an effort to promote careers in science and astronomy, De Mello has made outreach to students, especially young women, a personal priority. “It’s important to show them that if I can have a career in astronomy, then they can do it, too,” she said.

Freshman Lillian Heryak, an architecture and planning major from Cleveland, is considering psychology as a minor. “I like looking at the way the brain works and how that works with architecture and spaces and how people see things,” she said.  So it was a convenient coincidence that she met Carol Glass, professor of clinical psychology, who talked briefly with her about pursing psychology as a minor.

As faculty and student mingled, a PowerPoint presentation featuring female faculty played in the background. Eleanor McAuliffe, a junior psychology major from New Orleans, learned “a lot of interesting things” about the professors in working on the PowerPoint presentation. She attended the event to talk with several of those featured in the presentation and to ask questions about doing graduate work abroad.

A Women’s Faculty Collaborative Web site features information about women faculty experts.

“Forging Our Future” was one of five events to mark Women’s History Month. Upcoming events include:

  • The workshop “Salary Negotiations and Other Professional Issues for Women,” Tuesday, March 23, 5-7 p.m., Pryzbyla Center, Room 323.
  • Powderpuff Football Game, Saturday, March 27, 1 p.m., Columbus School of Law Lawn.