General Education

Michelle Issadore on Speaking up and Making an Impact

Michelle Issadore on Speaking up and Making an Impact
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Michelle Issadore May 29, 2015

Noodle Expert Michelle Issadore discusses the importance of speaking up even when it's hard and the work that goes into making an impact.

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Noodle Expert Michelle Issadore discusses the importance of speaking up even when it’s hard and the work that goes into making an impact.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

I have long been a fan, personally and professionally, of Courtney E. Martin. Her work on and in her book, “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters,” spoke to me as a recent graduate. Her more current work has grown to include ever broader issues of social justice and intersectionality, as well as how to reconcile one’s identity with becoming a mother. I would be intrigued to work closely with Courtney to learn more about how to write meaningfully on such important topics, how to be intentionally inclusive in one’s work, and how to strive for work-life balance when there is always more work to be done.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

One of my favorite quotes is by Maggie Kuhn; it reads, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes.” It reminds me of the importance of courage in one’s convictions. It means that it’s alright to be scared. It also tells me that having a voice and agency is critical, especially for women.

Where would you send a student who hasn’t traveled before?

While travel advice is very personal and would tend to depend on a given student’s interests and previous adventures, I would always recommend visiting Europe. My experience as a college student studying abroad was something I could never have accomplished in another stage of life. The ease with which one can explore different cities and countries is unparalleled. There is so much history to absorb, so many different languages to take in, so many kinds of cuisine to sample. It’s an education in and of itself.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

My first college research paper was a disaster from the get-go. No amount of one-on-one assistance from the teaching assistant or writing center could help because I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to study. I wasn’t used to performing poorly in the classroom. The experience was a wakeup call that college was a different entity than high school; my peers were as high-achieving as I and the professors were going to expect a great deal. I never wanted to repeat that feeling and put more time and energy into future papers throughout college and graduate school.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I was lucky enough to find positions that combined the things I studied and cared about most: psychology, women’s studies, and student affairs. My goal was to find a way to earn a living doing work that mattered; I have been extremely fortunate. I would say the thing that differs from my early-20’s idealistic vision is that every day cannot be a rally, a march, or a protest. It takes an enormous amount of work behind the scenes to create change, much of which occurs through reading, research, and cultivating relationships. Those avenues may not seem as impactful, but they constitute the bulk of my time and allow for more seemingly exciting events to occur.


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