Facebook pixel STLCC Recognizes Four Female Presidents #WHM, Part Two

STLCC Recognizes Four Female Presidents #WHM, Part Two

A Special Series Presented by St. Louis Community College
This Women's History Month, STLCC is proud to recognize the lives and amazing accomplishments of our four current female campus presidents. Learn about their past, what success for our students at STLCC means to them, and what the future has to hold for our four main campuses. This is the second story of a four-part series that tells the stories of the four current campus presidents.

Spotlight on Julie Fickas, Ed.D., campus president and chief academic officer, STLCC-Forest Park

Julie FickasJulie Fickas joined the full-time faculty at St. Louis Community College in 2009 after nearly 18 years as an adjunct faculty member.

Her adjunct career included teaching coursework in biology at STLCC-Florissant Valley, Lindenwood University and Parkland College in Champaign, Ill.  

Since coming to STLCC she has served on multiple campuses as a faculty member, department chair, interim dean, dean and interim president.

Fickas received her doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University. She also holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in biology from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

She serves on several boards, including the St. Louis City Workforce Development Board, School District of University City NAF Advisory Board, and the Missouri Botanical Gardens Education Mission Council.

In her free time, Fickas enjoys native and vegetable gardening, traveling with her husband and her five grandchildren.

Q&A with Julie Fickas, Ed.D.

What women inspires you and why?

My grandmother and my mother were/are both inspirations to me. 

My grandmother, Gladys Bequette, worked as a secretary in a circuit clerk’s office. At that time, women were mostly secretaries if they worked outside the home. She was progressive and had a job outside the home. She was extremely bright and worked very hard. She always pushed me to do my best – something I saw her do both in her work at her office and also at home. She dreamed of her grandchildren doing more than she ever did.  

My proudest moment was completing my doctoral degree.  My grandmother could not be there for the ceremony, but it was live-streamed and our family helped her to watch on a computer. I waved to her through the camera and knew that she was proud that I had achieved something she had only dreamed would be possible for me.  

My mother, Karlene Feldker, was also an inspiration. Like my grandmother, my mom was a secretary in a legal office. She was not satisfied in this role and always wanted to be more. She went back to school when I was in high school and finished her bachelor’s degree in math while I was in college. She was an encourager for me to continue my educational journey from my bachelor’s degree to my doctorate.  

How do you balance your career with your personal life and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?

I think that balancing my career with my personal life and passions has actually been one of the hardest things to do. When my children were younger, I only worked as an adjunct faculty member after trying a stint as a full-time research assistant and finding the full-time work situation to not be a good fit for me. The part-time work in the evenings allowed me to balance the guilt that I think many moms have when they work outside the home.  

Once my children got older, I was able to take on full-time work and not feel torn between my work and all of the activities that come with children in the home. In my role as a president, it would be very easy to work all day and all night and still not get everything done. I have set some boundaries on my evening and weekend times to try to balance my work and personal life more.  

I tend to go to work early in the mornings so that I can have more evening time free to be with my husband, Rodney. If I need to work in the evening or on a weekend, I try to only do emergent work. I have found that the time away from work hanging out with my family or planting things in my garden actually makes me a better employee. So, making sure that I have time away from work is crucial for me.

Julie FickasHow have you built confidence and/or resiliency over the course of your career?

To be quite honest, I often lack confidence. This may not be as negative as it sounds, though. Because I lack confidence, I know I need people around me to advise me. It is all of the people who surround me that have provided the resiliency I have experienced.  

There is a proverb that notes that, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”  I have found this to be true throughout my career. The more different types of voices you surround yourself with, the better your decisions will be and the more informed you will be to do the tasks needed. Any confidence I have is due to the many people who surround me to do the work we do together.

Can you give examples of how women can be supportive to other women at work?

Here are a couple examples of how women can be supportive to other women at work:

  • Mentoring other women is very important to support them and to help them develop their leadership skills. I have had many women mentors over the years that have and continue to have profound effects on how I do things.
  • Encouraging other women to not give up on their goals is another way to be supportive. It is so easy to just settle for something less. Encouraging others when they are tired because of the many directions they are pulled as possibly a wife, mother, daughter, etc., can help them to continue to reach for their goals.
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