Mariana Lebron smiles as she talks to students in her leadership class

Professor’s background, values drive her passion for research and teaching

Mariana Lebrón, Ph.D, is an accomplished professor and scholar.

In just five years at TU, Lebrón has helped nearly 500 students work with over 48 non-profit and for-profit organizations through her leadership classes. She has co-authored papers on leadership development with students, and she has shared students’ innovative ideas by citing their names in published work that dares others to think differently.

“The beauty of life is that there is always more to learn,” she said. “And I intend to learn everything I can before my time here is done.”

With both Italian and Puerto Rican heritage, Lebrón says her passion and persistence comes directly from her background. Both her mother and grandmother were change agents for their time. Through these role models, she learned how to live life with love and pursue goals with integrity and passion, believing in the idea that everyone has something innovative and unique to offer. Armed with these values, Lebrón’s goal is to push others to believe in themselves to the highest level they are capable, as too often in her life, she has faced systemic bias and efforts to stop her.

In her early life she was at times been labeled as “different,” “not smart,” “incapable,” not competent to be an effective professor, and so on. As her career progressed and she achieved greater milestones, it occurred to her that the unconscious bias of others was impacting her career. Sometimes she had to achieve twice as much as someone else in her same career category.

She has accepted her journey, which has entailed potholes, unique turns, secret passages, blockades, and stumbling blocks. She uses her experiences as motivation to help others be their best selves.

“I will forever use my voice to advocate for those who have earned their right to pursue educational and career opportunities not because of how they look, but because they are competent and have earned that right to sit at the table,” she said.

“My hope is to live my life with honor and integrity, as those are key values in what it means to be a Lebrón in my family.”

She loves that CBE and TU do not force her to conform. Rather, CBE and TU allow her to be herself, to think, teach, and research innovatively. She, like many other faculty members, will just never think like anyone else, and that is the beauty of education.

Lebrón was excited to share her personal story and appreciated TU faculty, administration, staff and students whose work gives her energy to get up tomorrow and see an even more exciting day of opportunity. In addition, she thanked the Diversity Action Committee for giving her story and others’ stories a voice.

By Shanshan Qian, Ph.D., Department of Management

This story is a part of the college’s monthly CBE Celebrates Diversity Series, which highlights student, faculty and staff stories from our diverse community.