When Dr. A. Gabriel Esteban assumed his role as DePaul’s 12th president this summer, it marked several firsts: DePaul’s first lay leader; DePaul’s first president with a Ph.D.; and DePaul’s first First Lady, Mrs. Josephine “Jo” Esteban. On Wednesday, October 11th, the DePaul Women’s Network hosted Mrs. Esteban at their Fall Member’s Reception. The annual event, held this year in the Theatre School lobby, welcomes new members and reconnects returning ones. This year’s theme was Words of Wisdom and we invited Mrs. Esteban to share her words with the DePaul Women’s Network.
Mrs. Esteban began her speech by thanking DWN for the invitation and praising the network, as well as other affinity groups at DePaul, for their support roles within the university—she wished there had been a group like DWN in her past educational and corporate environments. From there, Mrs. Esteban recounted some of her and President Esteban’s most important academic and personal milestones: she talked about how they met 38 years ago in math club during their junior year of college in the Philippines; how they supported each other throughout their graduate educations; how several times, in various cities, they serendipitously ended up working “right across the street” from each other. One of the stories that particularly resonated with me was Mrs. Esteban’s description of becoming a mother while taking classes in graduate school and teaching undergraduate-level courses as quite the “juggling act”. I immediately felt a newfound solidarity with her; it was refreshing to know that our First Lady has been there, done that, and come out of that experience stronger.
Mrs. Esteban also discussed her time as First Lady at Seton Hall and how her experience there might influence her new role here at DePaul. Some of her experiences included student events like flipping pancakes for all night breakfast during finals week and traveling to various cities for alumni receptions. According to Mrs. Esteban, her role as DePaul’s first First Lady will mostly involve “helping establish connections and relationships with individuals” and serving “as a representative of good will” on behalf of DePaul. In the end, offering words of wisdom to the group, Mrs. Esteban quoted Saint Louise de Marillac, who said “Encourage one another, and may your mutual good example speak louder than any words can.”
It is fitting that Mrs. Esteban chose these words in particular to share with DWN especially considering her previous comment about how she wished she’d had a network of support in her past educational and corporate environments. This resonated with me because DWN has been a place for support and encouragement, not just professionally, but personally. Despite my having built a strong network of friends and colleagues at DePaul and in Chicago, the Academy can be a very lonely place. We spend hours in our offices alone, grading, pouring over articles, books, chapters, grant applications, etc. This isolation can be especially jarring for junior faculty coming straight out of graduate school, which is a much more social environment.
For these reasons, I am especially grateful to have a space to connect with DePaul women staff and faculty across various colleges and disciplines. Though this was my first welcome reception as part of DWN, last year, as a member at large, I participated in several DWN events including the book clubs, the happy hours, and the High Tea. Each event provided unique opportunities for learning, sharing, and community building as well as meeting some pretty incredible women. Mrs. Esteban’s speech made me reflect on my deep appreciation for the connections that I’ve been able to make this past year as a DWN member, and I would encourage all new and returning DePaul faculty and staff to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
DePaul University is a place where people grow, and DWN helps connect women throughout that process. Apply now
and never look back!Carolina Barrera Tobón, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Modern Languages and a member of the DePaul Women’s Network Marketing and Communication team.