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Commentary Detail

Choosing Not to be Upwardly Mobile
Commentary by: Anna Navarro
Aired September 22, 2008

Americans are an upwardly mobile society. Bucking that orientation takes courage.

Moira was a successful academic who might have a shot at becoming a high level college administrator if she played her cards right.

She had started as a philosophy professor and had become head of the department in a time of turmoil. She surprised everyone with her effectiveness.

Several years later, when the Dean left suddenly, Moira was asked to be the Acting Dean. She was pleased to be offered the opportunity.

However, she wasn’t enjoying doing the job. She felt like she lived in a fishbowl. The time demands were very heavy. She missed the flexible schedule she’d had as a faculty member and didn’t find the challenges she faced stimulating.

That made her realize the skills she most enjoyed were intellectual ones. Analysis, writing and discussion were high on the list. She valued privacy, and time for reflection. She wanted summers off and found it stressful to interact constantly with new people.

On the other hand, being an administrator offered more prestige and money. And other women in the university were urging her to go for it.

As she wrestled with her choices, it became clear that the right path for her was to step off the administrative track she had barely begun to return to the faculty.

It wasn't an easy decision. She was very aware of what she was giving up. But it was the only decision that gave her peace.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Anna Navarro

Anna Navarro


Anna Navarro is the founder of Work Transitions, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping individuals find satisfaction and fulfillment in their work.


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