Preparing future faculty members

Mizzou recently hosted the first in-person SEC Emerging Scholars Career Preparation Workshop. Learn more about the program and hear from the five individuals who represented MU.

  • Carlos Rivera, Austin Lawrence, Rowena Woode, Duke Cruz and Ifeolu David.

Oct. 12, 2022
Contact: Deidra Ashley,

Students from all 14 Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities recently visited the University of Missouri to participate in a three-day career preparation workshop. The symposium, part of the SEC Emerging Scholars Program, provides professional development and networking opportunities for doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars who are considering careers in higher education.

The yearlong SEC Emerging Scholars Program is meant to encourage top scholars, with attention provided to those from historically underrepresented groups, to seek out employment and mentorship within the SEC. Although the program launched in 2021, due to the pandemic, this is the first year an in-person symposium has been offered.

“When it came time to talk about the first in-person workshop, Provost Latha Ramchand jumped at the opportunity to bring the program to Mizzou,” said Alexandra Socarides, associate provost for academic programs. “It was great to work with the other SEC schools and staff and put a Mizzou stamp on the conference — providing excellent content for program participants and showcasing the best parts of Mizzou.”

Each institution sent five scholars and two university administrators to Columbia. While at MU, participants toured campus, dined at local favorites and, most importantly, participated in sessions ranging from presenting yourself in written materials to what you can expect as a new faculty member.

“Mizzou set a high bar for the future of this workshop,” said Torie A. Johnson, associate commissioner for academic relations at the SEC. “I hope that we continue to see this program grow and that many of the student participants find their faculty home in the SEC as a result of this experience.”

Read on to hear from the five students who represented Mizzou.

Duke Cruz – Philosophy postdoctoral fellow

It was truly a dream come true when I found out that I had been selected to be part of such a distinguished group of scholars. This program provides yearlong support for one to publish and present their research — something that’s immensely valuable to my success in obtaining an academic position. The feedback, research support and professional development opportunities I’ve been given through this program will be invaluable to my career aspirations and goals.

Ifeolu David – Health and rehabilitation science doctoral fellow

This program gave me the chance to learn more about SEC institutions, and the conference was a great opportunity for networking. As I continue to explore opportunities post-graduation, lessons from this program will guide my decision-making. I now have a sense of what I need to prioritize when choosing a faculty position.

Austin Lawrence – Integrative anatomy (pathobiology) doctoral fellow

One of the things we don’t get a lot of as graduate students is preparation for the aspects of work and life as a faculty member outside of the lab or research space. This program has helped me learn how to balance and approach these areas. It also helped me connect with peers from other SEC universities that I probably would not have met otherwise, and it was very refreshing to cross disciplinary boundaries and learn about others’ work.

Carlos Rivera – Biological sciences postdoctoral fellow

One of the main reasons I applied for this program was to build a larger network to help me find my next position. My favorite parts of the conference were the conversations and connections I built over three days of awesome events. Something that stuck with me: Learn to be open to the challenges that life may bring as well as the opportunities that will lead us to become the best version of ourselves.

Rowena Woode – Biomedical sciences postdoctoral fellow

The SEC Emerging Scholars Program workshop taught be that there is no such thing as a traditional path in life. I was surprised by how forthcoming some of the speakers were about their experiences in their journey to become tenured faculty. It was a great opportunity for me to network with individuals from other universities, work on my elevator pitch and get advice and feedback on how to apply for faculty positions.

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