Women in Tech

Our Journey as Women in Tech Pt. 2

Key takeaways

  • Ellucian’s Women in Tech employee resource group (ERG) has partnered with Howard University to develop and lead a four-part learning series for Howard students.
  • The series is focused on principles and behaviors for success in the workplace.
  • The four sections include “Building Your Social Media Presence,” “Career Exploration,” “Diversity and Inclusion,” and “Mock Interviews with Ellucian Executives.”

Howard University Partnership Series: Career Exploration Panel Event & Impacts

Howard University, a historically Black college located in Washington, D.C., is the first university to participate in the Ellucian Women in Tech employee resource group’s (ERG) new four-part learning series program. This program, which we plan to extend to other colleges and universities, includes four key elements: “Building Your Social Media Presence,” “Career Exploration,” “Diversity and Inclusion,” and “Mock Interviews with Ellucian Executives.”

The program’s purpose is to develop connections with Ellucian’s customers by giving our employees the opportunity to interact directly with students. The beginning of our journey with Howard University has allowed us to focus on student and faculty success, while driving conversations about diversity, inclusion, and belonging along with other strategic hiring initiatives.

Each series offers panel discussions, presentations, and activity sessions that involve students, outside guests, and Ellucian employees. Our goal is to prepare students for the workforce, equip them with the core principles and behaviors required to be successful, build brand awareness for Ellucian and the university, and increase internship opportunities for students interested in the Ellucian experience.

Group Zoom call

Here are the lasting impressions and stories from the leaders of our Women in Tech ERG:

Robin Howell

Robin HowellRobin is a current member of the IT PMO organization and holds an undergraduate degree from Bennett College as well as a graduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University. A central New Jersey native, Robin currently works out of the Reston, Virginia office and resides in Herndon, Virginia. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, socializing with friends, and participating in community service projects through her beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

The Career Exploration event took place on August 11, 2020 via Zoom Virtual Conference. The guest speaker was Patricia Howard, Senior Health Care/Operations Executive. Patricia, a highly respected entrepreneur, philanthropist, and mentor, has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry. With loads of experience in clinical, financial, information technology, and global operations, Patricia shared her wealth of knowledge and wisdom with students from Howard University, as well as some Ellucian employees.

Her words were powerful, insightful, and left a lasting impression on me personally. Two pieces of advice that stood out to me, among the many, were: “Understand your weaknesses and seek out mentors who exude those qualities” and “Your actions become your narrative. Create them with good intentions.”

Patricia also suggested the adaptation of characteristics like assertiveness, courageousness, self-branding, and confidence. This event will continue to have a lasting impact on my career as the information shared was invaluable! Patricia was personable, relatable and not withholding of anything she felt would help us all in the long run.

In thinking about how to apply these pearls of wisdom to my career, I will ensure that going forward my mentors definitely exude strength where I am weaker. This will be one of the primary traits I will look for from this point on. Also, I will be more mindful of my actions and the choices I make in my career as I would like my narrative to be one of positivity, growth, and success.

Tishena Moss’s lasting impressions

Tishena MossTishena Moss is a senior desktop engineer on the IT Asset Management Team. She works with her colleagues to provide optimal end-user support for employees, ensuring that they can successfully use Ellucian’s key tools and access resources—whether they are in the office or working remotely. She is also responsible for moderating the weekly IT new-hire training session for all U.S.- and Latin America-based employees. She works out of the Malvern, Pennsylvania office and lives in Bear, Delaware. Tishena enjoys spending time with her family and friends, serving on various ministries at her church, singing with the HildaMan Chorale community choir, and working on projects for her family’s Ania Lynn Moss Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that awards yearly scholarships to graduating high school seniors.

The recent Career Exploration session with Patricia Howard was invaluable for so many reasons! As a seasoned professional with over 20 years of experience, even I came out of the session feeling very excited about my career possibilities—and I’m sure every Howard student who participated in the session did as well. I was truly moved and inspired by the valuable nuggets of insight and perspective Patricia shared during the hour-long webinar, which honestly felt like an open, candid, and honest conversation with a friend. I definitely feel it’s important for up-and-coming talented students—especially our black and brown students—to see what’s possible to achieve within their respective careers. In spite of the unforeseen hardships, obstacles, barriers, and negative perceptions they may endure throughout their career journeys, tremendous success is possible and it’s definitely within reach for each of them.

Patricia Howard is a prime example. As I stated in a personal note I sent to Patricia after the session, “You’re an inspirational and encouraging reminder of what’s possible.” With regard to women, though Patricia stated that “women need to act like women,” she also emphasized that there are impactful traits women can adopt from our male counterparts. These traits include being assertive, being more courageous, and speaking up more. At the core, she encouraged and reminded the students to simply “Be themselves” and “Be bold, speak up, and go for it!” when striving toward career aspirations and goals. As the webinar came to a close, Patricia left the students with one final priceless piece of advice: “Your actions become your narrative, so create them with good intentions!”

Looking back at my career, I can clearly remember a significant occasion where “Be bold, speak up, and go for it!” rang true. After my final round of interviews for a spot in SCT’s 1997 Academy class, I received a letter telling me I had been wait listed for the program. Of course, I was greatly disappointed because in my heart I knew this was where I wanted to be. So I took the time to write a personal email to the last person with whom I interviewed to express my excitement about the job opportunity and to explain in detail why I was the best candidate for the job—all while outlining each of the positive attributes I was bringing to the table. I closed the email by stating that if SCT did not offer me the job, that the company would be missing out on an amazing, smart, and hard-working employee.

The next day, I received a personal call from an SCT recruiter extending a job offer to me to join the company as an SCT Academy Technical Associate. In this case, being bold and speaking up secured an awesome opportunity. To this day, I say that email essentially sealed the deal for me. I definitely appreciated Patricia’s timely reminder, which allowed me to think back to this time early in my career. Since then, I have had to practice this impactful mindset! Although the outcome may not always be met with a yes or a favorable response, it is important to remember that my voice is powerful, and it can make a difference with the types of projects, tasks, initiatives, and overall opportunities that are extended my way. I must continue to use my voice to be my number one advocate!

Chinelo Ezeka

Chinelo EzekaChinelo is a Senior Consultant on the Ellucian Professional Services Team. She works out of the Lake Mary, Florida office and lives in Orlando. A native-born Nigerian, Chinelo grew up in Maryland, where she received her undergraduate degree in computer science from Bowie State University and later received her master’s in computer information systems and technology from The George Washington University. When she's not busy building and implementing technical solutions for her clients, she enjoys traveling the world and exploring life through experiences, strength training through CrossFit, and most importantly spending time with her family and close friends.

Have you ever attended a session where the words of the speaker are echoing through your thoughts after the session? Have you ever listened to someone describe how they worked hard to attain their dreams and found yourself uttering to yourself, “Wow, if she can work hard to overcome challenges and still attain her dreams, I can too.”

Those are the emotions and thoughts I had after our speaker series with Ms. Patricia Howard. She shared with us a story about how from a young age, she had a dream to be who she is today—a story that simply confirmed that she was and is a visionary. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Patricia reminded us of the beauty that our diverse thoughts and experiences as women add value to every conversation, to every team, and to every industry. “Women need to act like women,” she said as she reminded us to recognize what we bring to the table, and to understand what we can learn from our male counterparts.

At the beginning of the year, I had a personal goal of speaking up more and having more confidence in my thoughts and opinions, even if it was different than the majority. I’ve found myself doing just that. Perhaps its stems from being quarantined at home and wanting to ensure I have more human interaction than what I have in the confines of my small apartment; regardless, I now find myself speaking up and speaking out. Each time I do so, I pat myself on the back because my ideas truly are valuable, and I am learning the worth of the value I have simply by speaking up.

When Patricia talked about how important it is to do this, her reminder was confirmation for me to continue persevering towards a personal goal that I had set for myself. She closed the session by saying, “Your actions become your narrative. Create them with good intentions.” I recall scribbling down the quote and reflecting on the narrative I’ve been able to create and what I am working towards creating. Weeks after our discussion with Patricia, that quote echoes in my head. It’s forced me to reflect on how I’ve developed my brand, or my narrative, thus far in my career. As I progress, I recognize where I want to go, and this sentiment encourages me to ensure that each step I take, whether in thought or action, strategically aligns with the narrative that I am looking to create for myself. What Patricia left us with is the ability to reflect on how to continue being visionaries and work towards every vision we have for ourselves.

This ongoing partnership with Howard University serves to increase corporate exposure and outreach on campus, as well as develop strategic pipelines for internship opportunities. This is evident through the previous programs we have already sponsored, like “Building Your Personal Brand,” “Diversity & Inclusion: Becoming an Advocate and an Ally,” and future events such as “Mock Interview Sessions” and the “Adopt-A-Team” effort in collaboration with the People Team. At Ellucian, the Women in Tech ERG and other groups are passionate about our diversity groups and making sure employees feel supported. Initiatives like this Howard University series are a part of how we are driving change and our culture to be more inclusive.

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