“If students are afforded the ability to do well, they will rise to the occasion.”
*2019 Update: When the blog was written, Dr. Parnther was a Research Associate at WMU. She is currently an Assistant Professor at St. John's University.
Dr. Ceceilia Parnther, Research Associate, Center for Research on Instructional Change in Postsecondary Education in Kalamazoo, Michigan is persistently passionate about student success. It’s likely no surprise to those who know her that Ceceilia is leaving her mark on the education field. She describes herself as someone who enjoyed taking school seriously. Ceceilia received her Bachelor’s in Theater and Journalism from West Virginia University, a Master’s degree in education policy and leadership with a focus on post-secondary education from Loyola University Chicago and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.
Integrity education is a subject that Ceceilia believes students should be taught in school. This would enable them to learn how to learn, and more importantly the expectations of honesty. Integrity is a subject that employers and teachers worry about daily. However, expectations are often unclear. Ceceilia’s doctoral thesis research focused on academic ethics and was titled, “It’s On Us: A Case Study of Academic Integrity In A Mid-Western Community College.”
Ceceilia’s leadership style is collaborative which stems from the leaders who have inspired her. She always admired her teachers and professors who had the ability to recognize each student, learn their interests, and push them to excel. Ceceilia stated, “There’s a reoccurring theme, a lot of people helped along the way.” She believes in giving back what has been given to her. Other qualities Ceceilia brings into the workplace are intuitiveness, openness, fearlessness, and the ability to think about the future. She is also flexible which she attributes to growing up as a military brat.
When confronted with a challenge or a “no,” Ceceilia has a process to help her navigate through those difficult moments. First, she approaches it as a learning opportunity. Next, she asks for understanding or clarification on the issue. After, she evaluates what was said and makes a decision for action. ‘Don’t shelve things if you don’t have to” is a recommendation Ceceilia shared. There are topics and issues that if addressed can help student’s immediately.
Ceceilia advises, “You’re only as good as the person who’s most unhappy in a work environment, which should be the barometer.” She believes in helping to create a work place in which people can openly express their opinions. A recommendation for others following along a similar path is to recognize what environments you thrive in and look for a similar fit. The culture of an institution or an organization is an important factor to happiness at work. Ceceilia is happy to go to work each day because of her passion for helping students.
When she is not assisting students and furthering the research on academic integrity, Ceceilia is at home with her family. She has a husband and two daughters who love dance parties. To relax Ceceilia enjoys curling up with a good book and glass of wine. Other things that make Ceceilia smile include good people, good food, laughter, students succeeding, sunsets and the beach. She would love to do more international travel including visiting Dubai, Nigeria, and Morocco. A fun fact you may not know about Ceceilia is she was once a sales person for a video dating service. She describes the experience as car sales, but for love.
Ceceilia encourages future leaders to:
Always… be yourself. Don’t think your story or experiences are too small. Embrace fear and don’t be afraid of hearing no. Take risks on the things you’re passionate about.
Never… do anything that feels wrong in your gut, pay attention to that feeling.
Follow… your dreams because life is short and a lot of time is spent at work. Focus on fulfillment and make the big decisions worth it.
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