Staff Profiles

Kelly Willcox

What do you do in your spare time?

I am enjoying rediscovering the trails, waterways, and restaurants of the region after having been abroad for the last three years. My dog in particular has enjoyed hiking the many trails around home and has traded keeping up with camels for deer and squirrels. I still plan to travel as much as possible, when I am not camped out in the library working on my dissertation.

What's something most people wouldn't guess about you?

I recently learned to scuba dive and completed my open water certification in the Maldives and Dubai.

What was the most important lesson you learned as a student in undergrad?

There is a big difference between simply putting in the hours for studying and studying effectively and efficiently. Having a team of women depend on me as a teammate made me realize that getting enough sleep and taking care of myself were crucial to thriving on the field and in the classroom. I also realized that comparing myself to other students wasn't the best use of my time and energy. Everyone has things they are naturally strong at, and things they are putting the time in to develop.

What is your strongest piece of advice for today's college student?

Look for clues everywhere as to what ignites your passions and interests. Be open to possibility and change. Most importantly, take advantage of the unbelievable array of resources and opportunities on campus. Seek advice and inspiration from a variety of individuals and situations.

Kelly Willcox

Read Professional Bio

Hometown: Wallingford, PA
Schools & Course of Study:

  • Swarthmore College | B.A. Political Science, Concentration in Relations (Focus: East Asian Studies)
  • University of Pennsylvania | M.S. in Psychological Services
  • University of Pennsylvania | Doctoral Candidate [ABD], Higher Education Management

Lionel Anderson

What do you do in your spare time?

I'm a huge cook. I spend countless hours in the kitchen cooking for friends and family. But I'm at my happiest hosting and feeding people. When I'm not experimenting with new foods, I'm watching sports (Go YANKEES) and movies. For hours on end.

What's something most people wouldn't guess about you?

Here are three:

  1. I raise piranhas (right wrist is a bit nicked up).
  2. I'm pretty good on ice. Played hockey in boarding school.
  3. My sociology degree came after 5 semesters as an electrical engineering major. Five.

What was the most important lesson you learned as a student in undergrad?

To my detriment, I didn't put it to practice until graduate school – but working, comfortably, ahead of deadlines was, by far, the most important lesson learned. After years of procrastinating, I was stunned to discover how much I enjoyed researching a topic of interest, and/or writing on it, when the specter of a deadline wasn't looming.

What is your strongest piece of advice for today's college student?

Be fearless.

These are the years you'll least be expected to have it all figured out.  In that liberty, steer clear of the easy road relative to what you study and who you allow to determine what you value.  Choose a course of study that you feel committed to and provides you fulfillment. Not your parents or anyone else.  Conforming to what you think society's expectations are for you professionally, in your collegiate endeavors, puts the cart ahead of the horse. And it will, in many cases, deprive you of the necessary, and hopefully continuous, self-revelations that decorate our individualized paths to success.

Finally, at all times, do your best. And be your best.
Begin each year more intelligently than you did the last.

Lionel Anderson

Read Professional Bio

New York Times author page
Follow Lionel on Twitter: @lionel_anderson

Hometown: Bronx, NYC
Schools & Course of Study:

  • University of Pennsylvania | B.A. Sociology, Structures of Opportunity & Inequality
  • University of Pennsylvania | M.S.Ed. Higher Education Management

Nika Strzelecka

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy being active and spending as much time outside as possible. Nothing makes me happier than a long trail run in Wissahickon Valley Park. Most recently, I've started dabbling in rock climbing and am looking forward to the fall and the start of the outdoor bouldering season. When I'm not burning off excess energy, my partner and I can be found playing an intense game of Bananagrams, watching Star Trek, or just hanging out in the backyard with our 16-year-old cat Marley.

What's something most people wouldn't guess about you?

After graduating from college, I lived at a small Buddhist temple in rural South Korea for a year.

What was the most important lesson you learned as a student in undergrad?

I used to think all learning took place while sitting at a desk, reading a textbook, taking notes from a lecture, or researching and writing a 10-page paper. I was unaware of the extent to which learning could transcend the boundaries of classroom walls -- or how powerful that kind of learning can be. Reflecting on my college days, the experiences that influenced me the most took place outside of the classroom, and in fact, my campus internships ended up influencing my future career plans far more than the specifics of my undergraduate major.

What is your strongest piece of advice for today's college student?

It's never too early to start thinking about and developing your post-college plans. Utilize your college’s career center and alumni network; seek out summer internships or research opportunities to gain experience and develop transferable skills; explore different fellowship options; ask your professors, supervisors, and classmates for advice and suggestions. Keep in mind that figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as valuable as figuring out what you do want to do. More than likely, your plans will change many times, even after you graduate. But it’s almost always easier and more empowering to change your plan than to have no plan at all.

Nika Strzelecka

Read Professional Bio

Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Schools & Course of Study:

  • Pomona College | B.A. Environmental Analysis

Michael Webert

What do you do in your spare time?

I'm really involved in soccer, as a coach, an official, and a player on the rare occasions that I am uninjured. I also like to get out and explore the city as much as possible, although I sometimes get caught up in a New Girl marathon. I also try to develop new skills. Currently, I am learning how to cook meals with more than three ingredients.

What's something most people wouldn't guess about you?

This is tough; I think I’m easier to read than a picture book. People might be surprised to learn I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do (I just haven't practiced in the last thirteen years).

What was the most important lesson you learned as a student in college?

Distractions are killer. I wasted a lot of time on video games and movies, and constantly interrupted studying and papers to check Facebook or surf the web. My life (and grades) got much better once I dealt with the distractions, either by physically removing them from the environment or managing my time to avoid them.

What is your strongest piece of advice for today's college student?

All of us have tremendous potential. To unlock it, first discover what you want to accomplish. Then learn what it takes to accomplish it. Then commit yourself to achieving it. Don't rush the first step, though. Explore. There are so many potential areas of study and vocation that might excite you if you can find them and try them on. Be willing to set intermediate goals. Sometimes you can't plan your life out years into the future. Set a shorter-range goal and trust that your experiences and personal growth in the intervening time will reveal the next step in due course.

Michael Webert

Read Professional Bio

Hometown: Gorham, NY
Schools & Course of Study:

  • University of Utah | B.A. Philosophy