The Association for Women in Science – Gulf Coast Houston Chapter recently honored Dr. Alicia Monroe, provost and senior vice president of academic and faculty affairs, for her significant contributions to science education and promotion of STEM careers. She was recognized at the Outstanding Women in Science Seminar Series, where she also spoke about her career path.
“Dr. Monroe is an outstanding leader who brings great passion and dedication to enhancing educational programs at all levels,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean, in introducing her.
Monroe credited her success to her faith, family support and a commitment to continuous quality improvement and lifelong learning, but emphasized the importance of prioritizing things that matter the most.
She encouraged those in the audience when considering taking on another project to ask themselves, “Is this connected to my ‘true North?’” Monroe said that whenever she started something new, she reminded herself that she was not alone and that she still needed to seek help.
“I tend to go for my cape and my tights,” she said. “But you have to remember that you have a team of competent people around you who can assist.”
Monroe described growing up in segregated Indianapolis where she was a part of the first wave of high school students who elected to attend integrated schools. She said family and community support helped her meet the challenges she faced during her time in high school.
She then attended Brown University for her undergraduate studies, where overcoming adversity was a big part of her experience. However, with encouragement from family and peer counselors, she was able to fulfill her dream of attending medical school.
“They helped me understand that the sun would come up in the morning,” she said.
Monroe married her husband after graduation from Brown. At Indiana University School of Medicine, she was challenged to begin finding ways to integrate her life with her professional pursuits. In the spring of her senior year of medical school she received the good news that she was pregnant, and she was uncertain how she could manage starting her residency and becoming a new mother. Her program director convinced her she could begin her residency while she was pregnant and manage a growing family. The experience taught her important lessons.
“When you get off the beaten path, don’t be discouraged,” she said. “I had to be clear about my priorities and my noble purpose.”
Monroe identified the requirements necessary to complete her training, the personal and professional resources she could access to help her and the self-limiting beliefs that she needed to dispel. She learned to align her resources and build a network.
One of the key lessons she emphasized in achieving success is appreciating the value of a life partner who will support you.
As she advanced in her career and took on additional roles, to build leadership competencies, she signed up to do the things that no one else wanted to do. She sought out any opportunity to grow, whether it was volunteering, mentoring or serving on a committee. She found creative ways to move forward.
“Leadership for me is about influence, building skills and stepping up to do the hard work,” Monroe said.
Through her whole career, Monroe has always sought to maintain work-life integration.
She emphasized the importance of taking a holistic approach – taking care of the mind, body and spirit – but to apply ample grace and forgiveness to self and others.
She ended the lecture with important questions for the attendees to ask themselves:
- What is my next move?
- How do I want to impact the world?
- What will my legacy be?
She concluded with a reminder to actively practice gratitude in day-to-day life to cultivate resilience and avoid burnout.
-by Dipali Pathak