Panel speaks of careers beyond the classroom

DeKALB – The Northern Illinois University College of Education presents its spring 2013 Community Learning Series, “Women Educators in Science, Technology and Leadership,” at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 21, in the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

Three accomplished alumni will talk about how their education degrees led them to careers in educational leadership, corporate consulting and entrepreneurship, and medical research. While all three panelists are teachers first and foremost, they have taken their careers far beyond the traditional classroom. They will share lessons they have learned and tips for educators to navigate the constantly-changing landscape of education.

A reception with heavy hors d’oeuvres will begin at 5 p.m., with the panel discussion at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to register at 815-753-1949 or

Ankhe Bradley is the executive director of professional development for Rockford Public School District 205. She is also leading an effort to create and coordinate a leadership academy for district administrators. She worked as a kindergarten teacher before becoming principal of Riley Early Childhood Center in Harvey, Ill., then an assistant superintendent for District 152, also in Harvey.

Sylvia R. Cadena Smith, Ed.D., has written and taught graduate reading/literacy and English Language Learner courses and educational administration courses for Benedictine University, instructional design for Northern Illinois University’s Instructional Technology Graduate Program and guest-lectured at Northwestern University.

She has published several articles in the areas of assessment, evaluation and visual processing. As vice president and chief learning officer for an international technology company, she designed efficiency processes and procedures for e-learning programs for Sears, GM, Chrysler and Prudential. Smith is founder and CEO of CadenaSmith Enterprises, which develops and distributes reading intervention tools that help improve reading fluency and comprehension.

Linda Szymanski, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Medicine is a second career for Dr. Szymanski, who received a master of science degree in physical education from NIU in 1987 and went on to earn a doctorate in exercise science at the University of South Carolina.

She then earned a medical degree at Georgetown University and completed a residency in gynecology and obstetrics at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, where she served as administrative chief resident. She has since implemented a research and clinical program in exercise and pregnancy.

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