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Rani Roy’s Remarkable Journey

The process of applying for graduate school, fellowships, and summer research programs can be scary, but every year at Manhattan College, an abundance of students accomplish it with the help of The Center for Career Pathways.

Rani Roy, Ph.D, the assistant vice president for student and faculty development, is one of the most important forces behind this.

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Photos Courtesy of Rani Roy

During their transition, the department oversees all students and ensures that they are prepared and supported while paving a pathway for their future.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Columbia University, she received her doctorate at Cornell University, with a focus in cartilage tissue engineering.

“When I went on my academic job search, I realized I didn’t want to be a professor in academia and I didn’t want to be at a research tier one institute. I just wanted to work with students,” Roy says.

During her postdoctoral work at The Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, she conducted mineralized tissue research and spent time managing summer medical students, undergrads, and Ph.D students.

Roy says that working with those students was a major highlight of that year for her, but she still loved the other work she was doing. While finishing her postdoc, she decided to volunteer for a nonprofit where she worked with middle schoolers and high schoolers who were participating in summer research internships.

Reflecting on her experiences with students, Roy felt fulfilled. This inspired her to seek jobs in college administration, because she believed that the college population would benefit most from her background.

She landed a job at Columbia University’s Center for Career Education as a career counselor for graduate and doctoral students, where she worked her way up to associate director. It wasn’t long before she decided to make another change.

“Their department wasn’t academic affairs, and it wasn’t really student affairs – it was career education. I was looking for something that was more closely in line with academic affairs. I wanted that experience,” Roy said.

After two years at Columbia, Roy started working for MC in the fall of 2012, since the department here was more aligned with her preferences.

“I still wanted a little bit of the career development world – I love that – I still consider myself a career counselor in many ways. I wanted a place where I could see more of the academic affairs and I thought that the grad school advising here was a really good fit for that,” Roy said.

Many changes took place with Roy’s arrival. One of the first things she did was propose the Research Scholars Program, which quickly proved to be a successful idea after growing immensely over the past three summers.

“This summer, there were over 60 students. It’s been really amazing to see a community of engaged scholars over the summer,” said Roy.

She and her colleagues also realized that students and parents tend to see graduate schools, fellowships, and pre-professional advising as a part of career development, which she agrees with. They subsequently came up with The Office for Career Pathways as the umbrella office for all of these affairs.

“We’re really trying to say that we’re all one team and we’re trying to help students – it doesn’t matter what they’re looking for after they graduate. We want to help them succeed on whatever career path,” Roy said.

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Photos Courtesy of Rani Roy

Over this past summer, Academic Affairs reorganized into functional units, making Roy the assistant vice president and giving her many different units to manage – study abroad, graduate school and fellowship advisement, The Jasper Research Scholars, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, Grants Administration and Community Based Learning.

This is a hefty load of work to handle, and Roy admits her daily life entails complete craziness. Luckily, she works with a team of other faculty members in continually striving to guide students and faculty, and determine a vision for what each area should be prioritizing.

Elly Mons, the new assistant director of graduate and fellowship advisement, will be working with Roy to oversee students and faculty and balance the many responsibilities of the department. Mons and Roy have worked closely here before, they love working together and share a passion for guiding students and faculty.

“I’m really looking forward to this because I’ve been at the college since September 2014 as the study abroad coordinator, and I’ve worked with Rani on the Fulbright Scholar applicants,” Mons said.

Another faculty member who works alongside Roy is Rachel Cirelli, director of career development. Cirelli attributes Roy’s success and influence to her well-roundedness.

“She has a firm grasp of data and assessment, though can also build quick and strong rapport with students and counsel them through their professional and academic concerns. She has a doctoral degree in engineering – but can lead the most artistic of students in their job search and to their career goals. She is an invaluable asset to the college,” Cirelli said.

Cirelli also explains that being in constant collaboration with Roy isn’t hard.

“We share a bond which centers around our commitment to helping students finding vocations of meaning and purpose, as well a a drive towards excellence in how we serve students and represent the college. Working with her is one of the true highlights of my position!” Cirelli said.

When she isn’t immersed in her work, Roy spends her time with her family. She lives in Inwood with her nine-year-old son Nikash, her dog, and her husband, whom she met 17 years ago while they were completing their undergraduate work at Columbia.

From Roy’s exceptional career in the medical field to her outstanding work at MC, her ambition to help others in their academic endeavors has seemed to only grow stronger with time.

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