Shirley Collado's "PROVABLE SKILLS"
So I was reading my Facebook posts as I do every morning and came across one from a person whose words I listen to on baited breath. The post said “So wonderful for Ithaca College and Higher Ed! Congratulations!!” Followed by 3 gold stars. Hmm. What’s happening at Ithaca College? I’ve been so busy at work all week that I wasn’t paying attention to industry news. So I did what I always do when I’m confused. I pulled up Google. I searched for Ithaca College. “Shirley M. Collado Named Ithaca College’s Ninth President.”
Ok. Collado? Spanish surname. Let me not make any assumptions. Photo? Yes she “looks” Latina. But again, let me keep reading.
- Currently serves as Rutgers University – Newark Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief operating Officer
- An expert in organizational behavior and development
- 16 years in private and public institutions
- Trained as a clinical psychologist
- Developed and launched the BOLD Women’s Leadership Network
The BOLD Women’s Leadership Network sounds fantastic. Clicked the link. It is fantastic! Now we’re getting somewhere. Then the next line:
“Born in Brooklyn, New York, Collado is the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic… Collado is the first person in her family to complete college and the first Posse scholar to complete a doctoral degree.”
Call me a geek. Call me weird. I have never met this woman. And I am embarrassed to say I had never heard of her before this week. It didn’t matter. I was verklempt. I was suddenly filled with so much pride and excitement over her appointment that I posted it on all of my social media channels, created a graphic on my Instagram, googled her some more, shared the press release and wrote this blog post.
Given our current political landscape, news like this could not have come at a better time. Strange that the appointment of a university president could hold so much symbolism and hope (at least for me), but when the current leadership of our nation has such disdain for those of us who are different, small wins make all the difference.
Fundamentally, almost no one coming from the Dominican Republic to the United States is coming here because they have a provable skill that would benefit us and that would indicate their likely success in our society.
– current US Attorney General, Jeff Sessions back in 2006
What Mr. Sessions doesn’t say is that the immigrant experience is about creating a better life for families. That is something that America can be proud of, not ashamed of, as our current political “leaders” are. Many doctors, lawyers and other professionals arrive to this country from the Dominican Republic and are not allowed to share their “provable skills,” but instead are required to start their academic journeys from scratch. Instead, they save their money and energies and pour it into the education of their children who become the Shirely Collados of the future and the saving grace of this nation.
Universities in this country hold a special place in our society’s fabric. Higher education institutions are aspirational places that have the potential to move people out of poverty and despair. One person’s bachelor’s degree can mean that an entire family’s socio-economic mobility forges ahead.
I am sure that Dr. Collado’s job will be challenging enough without the pressures of middle managers like me looking up to her, watching her every move, trying to learn how to become equally successful. The exposure she will get, the speeches she will make, the expertise she will share suddenly hold a great weight. The appointment of a Dominican-American woman to the presidency of a prestigious, private university in New York State means that the possibilities for other Latinas become more real. Once one person shows us it is possible to break barriers, the way forward becomes clearer. No, she is not the first Latina to become a college president. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect. Take that and your provable skills!
If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it. – William Arthur Ward