“Your career should never define you but, it can be a powerful tool to impact the world. Love what you do so much that you wake up excited every day about pursuing your goals. If you don’t love it, success will be infinitely harder to achieve.
Set realistic goals and strive for excellence in all things to which you are devoted.”
Just a few years after completing her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, Dr. Tomika Greer became fascinated by discovering new ways to effectively implement technology that would enhance learning and support student success. With that inspiration, she pursued a master’s degree in instructional technology from Texas Tech University and subsequently earned her doctorate degree in human resource development at Texas A&M University. Greer joined the University of Houston in 2010 and currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in the human resource development program. A coach and mentor for many students, Dr. Greer is a member of the undergraduate curriculum committee and oversees internships working with students to identify opportunities to apply and practice what they have learned. Particularly, she is interested in career development for women and minorities. Her research explores trends and challenges associated with curriculum, pedagogy, and outcomes of academic programs, which has been published in Advances in Developing Human Resources; a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to research-to-practice implications of HRD topics.
Q: What current research topics are you exploring and how did you become interested in them?
A: I am interested in exploring best practices and shaping methods to effectively deliver a program and associated courses that improve student success; highlighting important research topics like advancing undergraduate education, employability and career development for women veterans, talent development from an African-American perspective, and stereotypes of employed mothers and linkages to work-family conflict and enrichment. My own unique journey formed the interest in the career development journeys of women. As an undergraduate student in chemical engineering, I expected to pursue a job as an engineer, which is traditionally regarded as a male-dominated profession. But, as graduation approached, I wanted to look into alternatives to the traditional engineering career path. I consistently pursued those alternatives and have constructed a career that I never would have imagined. I strongly believe that women and men have different career experiences because of their differing life roles. My goal is to illuminate the unique needs and goals for women and other minorities with the intention of making career progression and achievement more attainable.
Q: What attracted you to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education?
A: My initial interests can be easily traceable to childhood. My parents were excellent role models and encouraged me to pursue excellence in everything. My father was a process engineer in the glass industry, and my mother, a librarian who held a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in library science and PhD in educational technology. I graduated from North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which is recognized among the best high schools in the nation. When it was time to apply to college, my only consideration for choosing my major was the type of engineering to pursue. I love the academic environment for its potential to spark new ideas and develop people beyond their limited expectations of themselves.
Q: How will your work change the future?
A: In addition to commitments to teaching, scholarly activities, and service, I believe that my approach to teaching will change the professionals who graduate from our program. With a focus on the journey of learning and development rather than merely on content and grades, I strive to meet the varying needs of students by encouraging them to think beyond the content in their courses and to consider the wider context of their lives – other roles, responsibilities, and aspirations. My hope is that further career development research will enable more women and minorities to break through long-standing stereotypes about their economic positions and contributions to the workforce.
Text edited and condensed by Marilyn Howard Jones.