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|EDRAite of the Month - Debra Eilering|
EDRA, for me, is exchange. It is that universal currency that everyone accepts and is accepted everywhere. I often seek out advice from my peers during times of stress or exhaustion. After all - my success is not earned or celebrated alone. I am classified as a non-traditional student, because I am old I guess. I began a Graduate Program in my 40’s. It was and is difficult to adapt to being back in school, not only acclimating a busy life to my studies but relating what I am learning to anything tangible. At first, being back in school was a huge challenge. There seems to be a lot of repetition and fogginess to the purpose behind some assignments. My friends and colleagues at EDRA have guided me through the storm of endless homework, conflicting opinions and personalities that make up any educational quest.
My education includes a BFA and a BS. Out of high school, in Southern Illinois, I studied painting/drawing at the Art Institute of Chicago. I lived in Europe for a summer after graduation. I worked as an artist for my dad’s architectural firm until my interest in medicine brought me back to school. I majored in Biology Pre-Med at McKendree University and began medical research at BJC hospital in St. Louis. I worked for the GI dept and enjoyed serving as an advocate for GI surgical patients. I am now working towards my Masters in Architecture at SIU Carbondale and a Sustainability degree at Washington U in St. Louis. It is a nice blend of many interests but certainly a privilege to work closely with my family. My Dad is celebrating 50 years in private practice this year, therefore, I have a lot to live up to!
I joined EDRA in 2010 and attended my first conference in Chicago. It was a breath of fresh air. I soaked up the varied topics of interests and truly felt inspired by the many talented people involved in the organization. I have attended annually ever since. I find the environment of EDRA a safe place to explore ideas and a welcome audience for me to express my thoughts on a variety of proposals. I learn best when engaged and EDRA has given me an ideal platform to be curious and to follow my instincts towards new and exciting research.
My involvement in EDRA is taking an interesting direction, with the introduction of a new outreach program highlighting our membership. I have the honor of working with the Committee on Social Media this year and have recommended the “Meet Our Mentors” initiative. It is a monthly acknowledgment of a single person that has served their community by one of our newer members. The hope is to not only thank our mentors by learning of their story and motivations but to also involve young members, perhaps beginning their careers, to choose a mentor and perform an interview and subsequent narrative. It is a win for both parties.
The first “Meet Our Mentors” will feature myself interviewing Dr. Roberta Null. She is an interior design instructor that has not only introduced me to EDRA but continues to inspire me every day. She has a fascinating story to tell and a unique approach to life. This first installment should be released in January, so check back often. I look forward to highlighting her many pursuits of publication, teaching and successfully continuing her outstanding career long after so called retirement.