Dominika Latusek-Jurczak (Kozminski University, Poland)
The sky’s the limit! That’s what the little girl in this picture firmly believed. But then she was told that there wouldn’t be many chances for her in life. The little girl had dreams, but not really opportunities. She has faced a lot of challenges in life and things were not always easy during both communism and transition in Poland. She felt underprivileged and unsafe, and it was not easy to realize her dreams in that kind of environment. At least it seemed that way at first glance.
This little girl is of course me many years ago. I dreamed of being part of academia, but I did not know how to get there. Nobody in my environment had any experience in academia or science. I also did not have the resources to study.
I had something much more significant, though. I was ambitious, optimistic, and hard-working. I also had loving and supportive women in my family: my mom and three older sisters have always been a rock I could lean on when I was falling. Further, I was fortunate to have inspiring teachers during high school and during my studies who told me: “The sky is the limit!”
These people kept me motivated and encouraged me to chase my dreams and fight for an academic career. They supported me with their time, professional advice, and networking opportunities. As an early-career scholar, I was fortunate to have a supportive mentor, who guided me through the meanders of the academic profession and pushed me to reach for things I thought were unattainable. Finally, and most importantly, I found a true friend and partner, who is now my husband. He keeps repeating every time that hardships in life press down on me: “The sky is the limit!”
Now I am a university professor doing what I always dreamt of: I do research, I teach and work with businesses and public organizations leveraging my academic expertise. My advice to girls is to focus on what you want to make and be in life, work on your passions, and always keep believing in your dreams. Find a friend and commit to your partner so that you can go further together. Do what you truly want, do not stop, tune out the noise and keep moving forward.