Interview on Education

Interview with Rona Jutkowitz

 

Q: When were you born? How old are you?

A: I was born in 1959 and I am 52 years old.

 

 

Q: Where were you born?

A: Mineola, NY

 

 

Q: What is the highest level of education you have completed?

A: MBA in finance.

 

 

Q: What is the highest level of education your parents completed?

A: My mother was an NYU graduate and my father was from Poland and graduated from high school there, if that much.

 

 

Q: Would you say that the fact that your father only graduated from high school had any effect on your education?

A: My father’s lack of formal education beyond high school helped me to realize and appreciate his ability to be successful as a businessman and prominent, well-respected member of our community without the formal degree.

 

 

Q: Did this change the way you looked at your formal degree? Either make it more or less important to you?

A: My father always said, “There is no shortcut to experience”. This made me realize that while a formal education is crucial in today’s times, life’s experiences are equally as important. I think today’s emphasis on work and life experience before pursuing a graduate degree is indicative of the necessity of incorporation life’s experience with knowledge learned in the classroom. I realized that my father’s success without a formal education was as a result of hard work and determination. He always instilled in me the importance of working hard and doing your very best at everything you did. I took this life’s lesson with me and it serves me well to this day. When I was in school it was always important to me to work hard and get good grades.

 

 

Q: With that said, did you work before you went to graduate school?

A: I had many part time jobs during high school and college and I did work for New York Life Insurance Company as a pension analyst before getting my MBA.

 

 

 

Q: What is your profession?

A: I am a business manager in my husband’s periodontal practice.

 

 

Q: Who are your educational role models? Why?

A: My husband’s cousin who is a very determined, focused, driven and hard-working man. Alan went to Harvard and then Yale Law School and was a Rhodes scholar. I have a lot of respect for Alan’s determination and perseverance and I always admire his willingness to take on ever increasing challenges and responsibility.

 

 

Q: Why did you want to go to college?

A: I knew that a college education was essential to my growth as an individual. I chose to go to Northwestern University partly for the educational experience of being in a completely different part of the country than I had grown up in. I believe that this would be an interesting part of the non-classroom educational experience for me. I also looked forward to the breadth of educational diversity in college.

 

 

Q: What do you think the significant effect of college was on your life?

A: My choice to go to Chicago for college was based upon my desire to meet people from other parts of the U.S. At that time it was uncommon to go to the Midwest for college, in fact I did not know anyone before I got there. This “going outside of the box” was a very important non-classroom component to my education.  To me, college is all about taking your classroom knowledge and what life experience has taught you and pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone and challenging yourself in both of these areas.

 

 

Q: What does the word “education” mean to you?

A: Education to me means life’s experiences. More specifically, what one learns in a classroom (book knowledge) and more generally, life’s challenges on a social and emotional level. My father’s formal educational options were few and limited. However, growing up in Poland and experiencing the hardships of poverty and hunger and immigrating to the U.S. were his life’s experiences and challenges that became his education. It is about putting yourself in an intellectually challenging environment, both in and out of the classroom as well as a socially and emotionally challenging environment. Education leads to emotional, intellectual and social intelligence.

 

 

Q: What were some of the choices you made for the schools I would attend?

A: I would say that when it came time for your father and I to decide on your education, it was important to us to provide you with a combined secular and Judaic education. Through middle school, you attended a co-ed, dual curriculum school that provided you with a well-rounded and challenging education. We chose a non co-ed high school for you as this fit in well with our lifestyle.

 

 

Q: How do you feel about me staying so close to home and not going away to college like you did?

A: I think that your staying in NY for college and going to Queens College is still pushing you beyond the limited parameters of your high school, which was an all girls’ Jewish school. So by going to Queens College you are broadening your horizons by being in a co-ed, diverse environment. In addition to the classroom education, this is a social and emotional education.

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