Vice chancellor shares stories about her career, life

Personal conversation and an inspiring life story defined the "Do You Know Me?" event with Vice Chancellor Tracy Syler-Jones.

Students and staff joined Syler-Jones, the vice chancellor for marketing and communication, for dinner and dialogue Tuesday at the Dee J. Kelly Alumni & Visitors Center.

Syler-Jones shared her journey through college, her career, passions and her role at the university with the 25 people that attended.

"Whatever part of my story resonates with an individual, I hope they take that with them," Syler-Jones said about the event.

Two different parts of Syler-Jones' story inspired students Ben Ji and Raul Salas.

Ben Ji, a senior accounting and finance major, said he was touched after learning how Syler-Jones overcame obstacles in her career.

Sophomore math and engineering major Raul Salas said he appreciated Syler-Jones' past and how she came to the university.

"Vice chancellor and a student at the same time," Salas said, "I mean, that is something to really look up to."

Syler-Jones is working on her Executive MBA at the university. Syler-Jones graduated from San Diego State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and an emphasis in radio/television news, she said

After graduation, Syler-Jones wrote for a CBS news affiliate in San Diego for a year, and left after not enjoying the pace of the industry.

She said that you never want to make a rash decision about quitting your job after a bad day at work, but that you need to evaluate if your career makes you unhappy.

"Experience will tell you," Syler-Jones said. "I wouldn't have known I didn't want to do a TV news career if I hadn't experienced it."

Her career path continued as a stay-at-home mom, and then transitioned when she became a single parent and got a job overseeing a Volunteers In Service to America grant at the YMCA in Birmingham, Ala., she said. 

She said she made about $2.75 an hour.

Syler-Jones overcame obstacles, took a leap of faith and moved to Texas after applying for a position at the university, she said. A month after the application process, the university hired Syler-Jones as an assistant director of communication.

"Be willing to go outside your comfort zone," Syler-Jones said.

After she shared her story students joined Syler-Jones in an open-ended discussion. The two groups delved into topics regarding women in the workplace, media and how to be successful in a career.

Students asked Syler-Jones for advice regarding their own college and life experiences.

Syler-Jones said she enjoys the chance to have more conversations with students beyond those on a daily basis, and students get the chance to see the university's administration on a different level.