Dustdevil Diversity Spotlight: Dr. Conchita Hickey
This is part of a series of interviews highlighting diversity at TAMIU. On the occasion of Women’s History Month, this interview features Dr. Conchita Hickey, TAMIU Senior Lecturer and Dean Emerita, University College.
A Lifetime of Leadership Advancing Students', Women's Lives
Tell us where you’re from and what you do here at TAMIU.
I am a native Laredoan and am now retired, but working part-time at TAMIU as Senior Lecturer and Dean Emerita of University College.
As a woman, how do you feel your contributions impact TAMIU, the community and the world around you?
I believe that young women whether consciously or unconsciously, look to other women in leadership positions for direction, inspiration, clarity of vision for their own lives. Having had a leadership role at TAMIU where the majority of students are female, has allowed me to create programming that has strengthened student retention and success, and that translates into more women graduating each year, contributing to their community, close to home or wherever they begin their professional life.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
On a very personal note, my mother, who excelled on many levels. She had many leadership skills and taught me that faith, hard work, service, and generosity of spirit were key not only to success but to happiness as well.
What woman do you consider a role model?
That's a tough question because there are so many I could name. In general, women that face odds but continue to believe in themselves and their cause inspire me, whatever arena they work in. Locally, Sister Rosemary Welsh for her life of service for abused women.
But there are so many women I have met along the way that are truly inspiring. Through my work with Reading the Globe, I have met and gotten to know some truly brave and courageous women activists and writers who have overcome unimaginable hardships and used those experiences to teach us the power of human resiliency: Gerda W. Klein, Marina Nemat, Yoenmi Park, Loung Ung, and Christine Rickkardson all come to mind.
Please share with us your proudest accomplishment to date.
Having played an important role in the development of effective academic support programs and the First-Year Experience at TAMIU that culminated in the creation of University College. It has defined my academic life. But having earned a Ph.D. late in my life (while I was working full-time), definitely comes in second.
Tell us what you’re doing today academically, career or life-wise and what your future plans are.
I am ending my academic life as I will be retiring fully in May, so my future plans include enjoying whatever years I have left with my immediate and extended family and supporting causes that are important to me.
What change would you like to see related to women’s rights in the near future?
Equality at all levels, in education, politics, finances, in the workplace, and most importantly in a woman's own home. Too many women are still suffering physical, sexual, and verbal abuse in homes and workplaces throughout the world. That needs to change.
Do you think it is important for young people to be educated about women’s rights?
No question. It starts early by teaching girls what they are capable of achieving and by teaching boys that respecting and empowering girls benefits them as well. In the end, women play a huge role in men's lives, as mothers, spouses or girlfriends,
Is diversity important at university campuses, at work and overall? Why?
Certainly. Diverse ideas, opinions, skill sets, and visions are necessary to grow and excel at whatever one undertakes. Oftentimes our limited experiences, due to our gender or our culture, don't allow us to imagine a better solution for resolving problems or creating ideas that can improve the lives of others.
What quality or attitude you think would be key to improving women’s rights?
An educated mind leads to a more open point of view about the importance of women's rights, not just in word, but in action.
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