We are narrating our “stories” as part of a reflective exercise in my Ethics class this semester. This week’s assignment was to provide a sense of our professional personas. As usual, mine turned into a deeply reflective exercise, but whatever. So here goes, apropos of nothing 😉
I feel as though I should be singing “I’ve been everywhere” given my rather checkered professional life ;). I have been a journalist—serving as reporter and on the editorial desk—Web content developer, independent Web strategist and front end developer, instructional technologist, faculty, and now PhD Gonnabe, research assistant, teaching assistant, and Vice-President of the Doctoral Student Association (DSA). It may seem chaotic and eclectic, but in reality, three strands create the warp and weft of my professional life: media, technology, and education.
I have never charted out a specific career path, but at every transition, I seek opportunities that allow me to extend both, knowledge and skills. I firmly believe that every course, task, assignment, and responsibility I take on is an opportunity to learn and grow. I have never formally thought of or articulated it as such, but it seems to me that being a lifelong learner is very much a part of my personal and professional code of ethics. My parents clearly knew what they were doing when they named me Vidya, the Sanskrit word for knowledge and wisdom ;).
The pursuit of knowledge through formal avenues has brought me back to school time and again. It is no different this time with the PhD, and yet it is. Different because, unlike many of my peers, I am privileged and blessed to be able to do this full-time thanks to my husband’s support. As such, I consider it my moral duty and ethical obligation to be responsible about it and finish the program in a timely manner. I am also privileged to serve as Research Assistant to a faculty member who does not deem it necessary to monitor my hours and allows me to work from home. Thus, it is also my moral and ethical imperative to ensure that I do not abuse that trust in any form and fashion.
As a Teaching Assistant, I believe I am duty-bound to follow the same standards of professional ethics that faculty adhere to:
Faculty members are expected to maintain the highest standards of professional ethics in all aspects of their jobs, as teachers, scholars, colleagues, members of the university and of the larger community. This sense of ethical responsibility is manifest in ways of acting that demonstrate institutional fit with the Mission of the University of the Incarnate Word.
Institutional fit includes promoting lifelong learning, collaboration, mentoring, research, global perspective, and being accessible, respectful, and responsive among the many attributes listed in the faculty handbook. I strive to incorporate these as best as I can while executing my duties as Teaching Assistant as well as Vice-President of the DSA. At the end of the day, no matter what my professional context, what counts is how I discharged my duties—with diligence, conscientiousness, integrity, and to the best of my ability—and how I treated my colleagues. As I look back on my professional life, there is a sense of accomplishment. There is also a very real sense of pride in the fact that former colleagues still recall me with affection and rank me among the best of them. That is what I take moving forward.