“Ask an Alum” American Ethnic Studies Major to Collegiate Prep Principal

Tracie Sanlin graduated from University of Washington- Seattle in 2007 with a degree in American Ethnic Studies. While at UW, Tracie was a proud sister of Lambda Theta Alpha, a house band member of R.E.T.R.O. poets, played with the University Orchestra, Wind Ensemble, and Vocal Jazz group. She was also one of the founding mentors for the Dream Project. After graduating from UW, Tracie joined the Teach for America corps. This led her to receiving her M.A. in Elementary Education at Loyola Marymount and her Ed.M in School Leadership at Harvard University. Tracie is now the Principal at Chicago Collegiate Charter School in Chicago, Illinois. Feel free connect with Tracie about her journey, career, or education at tracie.sanlin@gmail.com or connect on LinkedIn.

We asked Tracie some questions about her career journey and what advice she would give to help launch her fellow huskies to success! Here is what Tracie had to say:

In what ways did your UW education support or advance your career?

My UW experience allowed me to clearly define what I believed in and what impact I wanted to make with my work. As an Ethnic Studies major, I learned about the injustices of our country and how for years coalitions of like-minded people have worked to correct those wrongs.

Why did you choose to pursue a career in your field?

Just about every person in my family was a teacher, and I was not sure what I wanted to do following my time at UW. One of my friends had joined Teach for America, I applied and was accepted. I’ve been teaching and leading schools ever since!

How is your current career the same or different than what you thought it would be when you began college?

When I came to UW I originally enrolled as a music education major and switched degree programs. I guess, I always knew that I was going to be an educator but for what and how long has definitely been a surprise!

What is something you wish you knew about finding a career while you were an undergrad?

While many careers require special certification or licenses, most careers that are fulfilling are ones that allow you to utilize you interpersonal strengths and technical skills. More often than not, I have found those don’t always correlate with title of your major but rather what you have honed via the act of learning.

What advice do you have for current students looking at stepping into your career path?

Try it out first! I worked with GEAR UP and was a tutor for the athletic department, so I knew that I liked working with others and helping them figure things out.

What are top skills your industry is looking for in new hires?

The top skills are: being able to manage multiple work streams, resolve conflicts, high EQ and strong time management.

What aspects of the culture at your company or place of work do you appreciate?

As the leader of my school, I deeply appreciate my entire teams commitment to doing this incredibly important work everyday. We also care deeply about each other as professionals and individuals.

Share an experience where you failed during your professional journey. How were you able to come back from that experience? What did you learn from that experience?

Oh man, I fail all the time. I think my hardest failure was after my first year of being a principal. Leading a school is an incredibly complex task and I had to take several weeks to determine how I was going to improve my leadership. It required me to conduct soul searching, solicit critical feedback from a number of trusted individuals and being honest with my team about what we didn’t do right and what we would be changing moving forward.

What activities do you enjoy outside of your career?

I enjoy reading, working out, traveling and creating incredible organic gardens each summer!

More about Teach for America:

Are you interested in challenging yourself in an impact-driven career? Putting your talents to work to disrupt inequity and create opportunity? Joining a powerful network of more than 60,000 leaders from all backgrounds and sectors?

By joining Teach For America, you will become part of a network of leaders shaping the political, economic, and social future of our country. Check out some of the inspiring ways our alumni are leading across engineering, education, business, policy, law, medicine, and more. How will you lead? Apply to the 2019 corps today.

If you’d like to learn more, fill out this survey to meet with the Teach For America Recruitment Director, Katey Thomson.

By Izzy Wroblewski
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