Photo by Hillary Ehlen
By Dr. Corina Todoran
Someone once told me that if you want to be successful and achieve great things in life, you have to surround yourself with achievers and successful people.
This month I am introducing to you Dr. Corina Todoran, who came to NDSU by way of Romania. For those that know the long journey that graduate school can be, Corina has managed to surf through these academic years, juggling numerous roles on campus. I know that I wouldn’t have been as involved on and off campus, had I not seen Corina do it while getting her Ph.D. I kept on repeating to myself that if Corina could do it I should at least try to emulate her level of engagement.
Visualization is an essential step in achieving monumental goals of life and this is why I feel honored and privileged to have crossed the path of Corina during the 2016 NDSU homecoming parade that I met her at. I was just embarking on my graduate school journey and she proved to be a great example to me.
She is the crossroad of world diplomacy, academic excellence, servant leadership and global citizenship…all in one person. She is a globetrotter and to those of us who cannot travel as frequently as she does, she makes those of us fortunate enough to call her friend feel a part of her travel via her numerous stories and pictures from these voyages. Between conferences for her multicultural education Ph.D. research work to traveling for leisure, she provides a lot of this!
Romania is fortunate to have her represent its rich culture, NDSU is fortunate to count her as a proud alumna and I really hope that an employer in the Fargo/Moorhead area will recruit her and keep her here. She really helps make the world feel like a smaller and more understanding place!
Why did you come to Fargo?
As a teenager and young adult, I have always been passionate about learning and traveling. I studied foreign languages while in high school and have visited a number of European countries. I always thought about the U.S. as one of the most fascinating countries and dreamed to have a chance to see it. So, after I finished my Master’s back in Romania I applied for a Ph.D. degree at NDSU and started this exciting journey. I came to Fargo in 2013 to start my doctoral degree in the NDSU School of Education. I recently graduated and it’s bittersweet to leave the campus because I have really enjoyed my time as part of this community.
What’s it like looking like the majority population, yet feeling like an outsider?
Even before coming to Fargo I was told that winters are cold and long, and after my arrival I kept hearing people talking about this as the dominant feature of the FM area. Now I understand why I was warned about Fargo winters, and even though I must admit I still don’t like living in a cold place, I discovered many other positives that enhanced my stay in this area. Although the population here is mainly homogeneous, I noticed the diversity of perspectives shaping this community. I have interacted with many international students and faculty and we often share our stories about what it means to live and study in a foreign country. In fact, these conversations led to my interest in studying international doctoral students’ experiences in the U.S. academic, social, and cultural settings. Twenty-five international students shared with me their unique life stories and my hope is that this research is valuable for the FM community as well.
Back to my own journey, I must say that I have never experienced direct discrimination and I was always glad to share with the community the beauty of my home country, Romania. However, after my arrival here, I realized I was part of a minority. I had never felt like that before. At first glance, I look like the mainstream population, but each time I begin to speak and people hear I have an accent, the next question is “Where are you from?” I didn’t have a very hard time getting used to that, but at first I admit it felt like a handicap. Eventually, I got used to it and I enjoyed seeing that people were interested in knowing more about my story. I am aware that I am an outsider, but I have always felt nurtured and appreciated for who I am and that has always brought a smile on my face and an increasing self-confidence.
What are your hopes and visions for Fargo-Moorhead area?
I think the FM area keeps evolving and I am pleased to see a variety of events and initiatives enhancing the experiences of this community. Indeed, the weather is not always friendly, but people here are extremely nice and kind, and this is what really matters and makes it a safe and great place.
How have your NDSU years shaped you?
Words cannot describe how grateful I am for all the opportunities and people I have met here. I am so thankful that I have been exposed to a variety of people who are diverse from different standpoints such as nationality, religion, culture, socio-economic status and sexual orientation and, more importantly, I had the chance to know them deeply. Back home such opportunities were limited. I believe it is not only important to be exposed to diversity, but we should also be a pivotal factor of change. We should address and celebrate diversity in all its forms. Also, it is essential to understand that as foreigners, we become ambassadors of our home countries. Living and studying here over the past five years has been a transformative journey for me. This experience has shaped who I am, both personally and professionally.
Why do you still call Fargo “home?”
I just graduated in August, so I’m still figuring where I want to land. And even though I might choose to move elsewhere later, Fargo has been my home away from home and I hope to be able to stay here. It is not easy to live far away from family and friends. I had to adapt and accept that it was my own decision to study abroad. I thus focused all my energy on my degree, the classes I taught, my research and other leadership activities to keep my mind busy. I believe that people here have made this experience smoother for me and I feel I am a valued member of this community.
If you’re interested in knowing more, feel free to reach out to Corina on LinkedIn.com.
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