In honor of Women’s History Month, we sat down with Rose State Dean of Health Sciences Division and asked her five questions to learn more about her and how she has gotten to where she is now. We hope these answers inspire you to never give up on your dreams.
Dr. Rita Mild - Dean, Health Sciences Division
I think I would say that you must love yourself because a lot of your success in life comes from being at peace with yourself and advocating for yourself and loving yourself. There aren't very many people in your life that can do that better for you than you. Loving yourself helps you more in the end because it helps you protect yourself and stay true to your values. As women, we compromise a lot of ourselves to the point of our detriment, so I think that it's okay to not compromise on some things, to stay the course as you see it and not let outside voices deter you from what it is that you really want.
I think that over the years, I've learned to prioritize what really matters. And it's not always like money, or personal revenue, however, you want to put it. There are other things that are more important in life, such as spending time with family and friends and spending time with yourself and nurturing your own interests. I would encourage myself if I could go back and others to enjoy the process. I'm not trying to be cliche, but just stay present. I encourage you to look towards the future, but to also enjoy what you have now.
I also think that a lot of women don't feel like they're enough. There is a lot of pressure on society, especially those of us who wear multiple roles, such as caretakers, mothers, sisters, daughters – it's a lot, so remember that it's okay to ask for help and it’s okay to not be okay occasionally.
There are probably a couple of things, one being kind of stereotypical, but I do feel proud of being a mother because it's something that I put off for a long time. I have two boys and I hope that being raised by a strong, feminist forward woman shows them that women are equal to men in all ways. Hopefully, I'm doing a good job, because I also know men face a lot of pressure too. There's a lot of toxic culture for men that they must try to deal with and so I'm hoping that I'm doing my part to raise my boys to not buy into that, to not buy into the stereotype of what a man is supposed to be. So, my boys make me really proud, they're really smart and happy.
I’m also proud of finishing college. This is something that people make it sound like, “oh, you just do it, you just go to college.” I know when I graduated high school, you're expected to just go to college and it really is a marathon. I'm proud that I had persistence and that I had resilience from setbacks. My story was a little, somewhat unconventional, I took some time off in between different things, but I'm proud that I just went back and I never gave up. Getting a degree in science is really important because women are so underrepresented in science still. Even though we've made a lot of progress in recent years, for a long time, it was a man's field. And so, I feel proud to be one of the few that is part of the scientific community.
Here at Rose, what still sticks out to me as being my greatest achievement was getting the excellence in teaching award in 2017. When you're in science, there's a lot of pressure to go to bigger schools that do more research and I always liked research, but I always knew that I wanted to land in teaching, it was the first time that I felt certain that what I was doing was correct.
We do need more women leaders. I feel like women are already leaders. In the past, a lot of women's labor was unpaid and unseen and now it's kind of coming to the public and I feel like we just innately have leadership qualities, such as the ability to multitask, plan and budget. I feel like women have a lot of emotional intelligence, sometimes we're better at reading people and that can make us relatable to a wide variety of people. Because of where women have been placed in society, a lot of us have a natural competitiveness and drive to push forward because we have to. We’ve always been leaders; it just hasn't always been recognized.
I was a first-generation college student within my own immediate family and a lot of it was just being the oldest. I feel like being the oldest, you tend to be the most responsible, ambitious and parents just expect more out of you. So, I think when you haven't had a parent or a close relative, that's gone to college, you have to figure out a lot on your own.
I think overcoming obstacles is a lot about your mindset and your personality trait to have grit and tenacity and resilience and not toxic positivity, but just realizing, having that, that realization that however it is now, it's not always necessarily going to be that way forever.