Overcoming Barriers

Promotion & tenure tips: Overcoming barriers Newsletter #30


A Season of Change

If you have read any of the September editions of the my tips, you know how much I absolutely love the fall season – the changes in the weather, food choices, adult beverages, and the colors of the leaves. But with these enjoyable changes (for me), I struggle (as I am sure many of you do as well) with the changes that occur in my professional and personal life. It is difficult enough when you know the change is on the horizon, but when you are blindsided, it can literally take you out (mentally and emotionally).
It is not lost on me that many of you are looking down the barrel of serious professional changes – especially as it relates to the results of P&T decisions or simply just being flat-out fed up with the organization in which you work. So, how do we navigate these changes while keeping ourselves whole? Because regardless of wonderful words and phrases like “it’s going to be ok” or “you are going to be stronger once this is over,” nothing really speaks to your feelings about the change itself. Trust me, I get it.

Here are a few helpful tips to move your feelings from the anxiety during your season of change. And so that we are very clear, I have also had to practice these.

  1. Take the necessary time to own your feelings. As a wise person told me, “It’s ok to push through it. It’s okay to sit with it. It’s ok to lean into it.”
  2. Self-Reflection. Once you get to a place where you can reflect without being totally upset, ask yourself, What am I supposed to learn from this experience?
  3. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable is probably the hardest part of being a human. We like comfort, hence why we indulge in comforting acts. But in this season of change, embrace being uncomfortable, instead of trying to reset. Stay in the space for a while, then repeat #2.
  4. Celebrate you. A wise woman in her late 20’s reminded me that regardless of what the change is, the uncomfortableness of it all, and every feeling I was experiencing, I had to celebrate myself every day, regardless.

So, as we embark on our individual seasons of change, remember that change takes place when it is actually time for us to grow. It can be a slight nudge or a literal kick out of the nest. Change is a good thing, it is just hard going through it. But the otherside can in fact be better, we just have to allow ourselves to embrace being uncomfortable during the season. That being said, get a hat, jacket, etc., and weather the season change.

“Be healthy and take care of yourself, but be happy with the beautiful things that make you, you.”

Beyoncé Knowles


We at OBN are always looking for something different. Over the summer hiatus, the staff had many conversations about community or the lack thereof with Black women, thus, understanding we can sometimes be our own worst barrier. For that reason, we will be highlighting the successful collaborations of Black women throughout subsequent newsletters. It is our hope that this feature encourages more Black women to support their fellow Black women’s endeavors. That being said, if you are in a collaboration that has published or garnered funds, let us know. OBN would love to highlight your group! Congrats to Drs. Tamara Pearson, Pamela Leggett-Robinson, Felicia Benton-Johnson, Kathaleena Edward Monds, and Danielle Dickens for being awarded $4.2M in funding for their National Science Foundation (NSF) Racial Equity in STEM Education project: Understanding Persistence through the Lens of Interruption: A Framework for Transformation (UPLIFT). This collaborative project between Spelman College, PLR Consulting, Georgia Institute of Technology, Albany State University will study the impact of interruptions on Black women’s collegiate STEM experiences and their persistence and matriculation in STEM majors.

Although interruptions are daily occurrences in the lives of all people, Black women are interrupted more frequently than others as a matter of their sheer existence and each occurrence results in a loss of focus, a loss in momentum, and a loss in confidence, and requires time to rebound. Through documenting the experiences of undergraduate Black women in STEM as they progress from first year to senior year, using a theoretical framework grounded in Black Feminist Thought and Intersectionality, we will develop a framework for interruption that investigates the relationship between systems of oppression and Black women’s intent to persist in STEM.

Pamela Leggett-Robinson, PhD, CAPM
Executive Director, PLR Consulting


Pamela Leggett-Robinson

Pamela Leggett-Robinson is the CEO and Executive Director for PLR Consulting in Atlanta, GA. PLR Consulting is a boutique Program Development, Management, and Evaluation firm that works with organizations and institutions that seek to address multi-faceted obstacles confronting historically and presently marginalized groups in STEM environments and optimize current STEM...