Usefulness Of Professional Skills Tops Alumna's Experience

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Elizabeth Thurman ’06 knew exactly what she wanted from a college and exactly what she wanted to study before she even set foot on the Dominican University of California campus.

“I grew up in a tightly-knit community and attended a small, but exceptional high school. When looking at universities, I was seeking something that would give me the same sense of support and connection, while still being of high academic quality and access,” Elizabeth recalls.

Having lived in Marin County for a part of her childhood, Dominican was high up on her list.

“I was excited to start a new chapter in a place I had the opportunity to rediscover and fall in love with.”

Elizabeth declared a double major in political science and psychology almost immediately, appreciating Dominican's flexibility and communication among departments.

“I wanted to jump in and make the most of my time as quickly as possible,” she says. “I knew I wanted to further explore human nature and socio-political systems of power, so the dual degree was a natural fit.”

She quickly became involved with experiences both on and off campus, including spending a semester in Copenhagen through Global Learning to study both social psychology and the politics of the European Union.

“The fact that those experiences could transfer directly into my double-major augmented my educational journey immensely,” Elizabeth notes.
One of Elizabeth’s favorite extracurriculars was Model UN. Her role on the Security Council helped Elizabeth sharpen her negotiation skills and executive presence – which she carried into her professional career. She also was a member of Psy Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology.

“My Dominican experience solidified the value of professional skills above all else,” she says. “While skills related to specific jobs change over time, there is no substitute for professional skills like communication, networking, collaboration, personal branding, gaining stakeholder consensus, negotiation tactics, time management, and research.”

Elizabeth was able to utilize her two majors in the School of Liberal Arts and Education while interning with the Tides Foundation in San Francisco, where her work focused on human resources management.

“At the time, the blend between talent management and non-profit management was a perfect application of my psychology and political science majors,” she says. “While a great opportunity to sharpen my professional skills, the experience also gave me a glimpse into public sector work which sparked my later interest in education as an integral component of human capital management, even as my work evolved into the private sector.”

Immediately following graduation, Elizabeth worked in Training and Development for Borders, Inc.

“While I initially thought I wanted to focus on public sector leadership and development, I soon fell in love with the intersection between talent development and corporate strategy, which combined so many of my strengths and skills from my Dominican experience and led me to work in the workforce development industry for the length of my career.”

In 2020, Elizabeth earned her MBA with a concentration in Marketing Management from Syracuse University, which further enhanced her professional experience and leadership trajectory. Her Dominican background prepared Elizabeth well for the MBA program.

“The collaborative nature of my classes, as well as my extracurriculars, the work on my thesis, my internship, and my study abroad experience helped affirm the value of these skills that I have carried forward into my career and served me well while obtaining my MBA.”

Elizabeth’s career has been focused on talent development, product development, and human capital consulting across both the public and private sectors. Today, she works in higher education leading the workforce development and non-Title IV product development for corporate partners. Her work includes consulting with corporations to assess their skill gaps and workforce development needs, then leveraging higher education resources to design products and programs to upskill their talent. She serves as the Executive Chair of the employee resource group in her organization, committed to the advancement and empowerment of women's leadership in the workplace. Elizabeth also founded a career consulting business as an outlet to help professionals transition jobs and grow in their careers.

“I approach my life with a sense of tenacity and advocacy for education, equity, and growth,” she says.

Elizabeth notes that her degrees in psychology and political science – along with Dominican’s holistic approach – laid a strong foundation for her success. Each year built upon the next with the support and challenge offered by the outstanding faculty, including Dr. Christian Dean, professor of political science, department chair Alison Howard, and Dr. LeeAnn Bartolini, professor of psychology.

“Dominican helped me affirm some key professional values I will carry forever,” she says. “That includes knowing professional skills are invaluable tools, education does not end upon graduation and lifelong learning is critical to staying relevant in your field, corporations play a critical role in the efforts toward gender equality, and businesses succeed when their workforce is nurtured through development and growth opportunities.”

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