This season of The Defectors is sponsored by The Defector Academy Suite, a series of coaching activities designed to help you discern your path. If you’re even thinking about a life beyond campus, explore the trio of options available to you to work through these thoughts and ideas with me as your co-pilot! Don’t want in, but still love the series?Consider donating to keep it going!

wooden post fence, surrounded by flowering trees, with "The Defectors: Women at Work" overlaid in white text

Today’s Defector Woman at Work is Liana Silva. A former tenure-track professor who has since made a number of pivots, she currently serves as a high school English teacher in Houston, TX. Through the many twists of her career, she’s kept two things constantly in her scope: her love of writing and commitment to keep it as part of her life; and her daughter, who she keeps in mind as she makes these decisions.

Liana’s a lover of big questions, something she learned in her earliest days of studying literature. Rather than the customary ending question of “would you ever go back,” I instead posed to her, “What big questions should people pondering a defection ask themselves and those who factor into their decision making?” You’re going to want to stick with us to the end for her answer.

(Captions available; Get a transcript of our conversation here)

Liana is a delight to talk to, about anything you might have big questions about. I encourage you to check her out on LinkedIn, or to dive into the blog she edits, Sounding Out!

Takeaways from Liana S.’s Journey

  • The plan can change. Liana was all set to get her degree, progress along the tenure track, and eventually end up a full professor. But after becoming pregnant with her daughter, and trying to navigate the process, she realized that for her…the path would have to change.
  • More so than with any other Dispatch from this year, Liana’s story directly hits upon how many elements of academia and higher education weren’t build with women in mind, with people of color in mind, with queer people in mind, etc. If it feels harder at times for those not in the “default” population…you’re not crazy. It is harder, and often by design.
  • When adapting your plan, it matters to keep values central to the decisions you’re making. These values can be ideas like integrity, creativity, self-esteem…or they can be people, like a spouse, a friend group, or your children.
  • Liana’s advice for those looking to dig deep and question themselves ahead of a transition: ask (a) what do I value, and (b) what part of my current job, would I be sad to not get to do in my next role? (Hint: prioritize that element as you look for the next thing)