Connecting the dots has always been important to Myra Khan Blanchard, especially "between what people were learning in the classroom and their applications in real life through experiential learning programs, through professional development programs, or cultural exchange."
“I love that feeling when you're guiding and facilitating someone to figure out what's right for them, not providing an answer but more as a facilitator, guide, and coach.”
Myra is the Assistant Director of Career Advising at the School of Data Science and at the School of Engineering.
Myra was born in Illinois, but she was raised across three continents.
“My dad was a civil engineer with a multinational company, and my mom worked for the United Nations,” she explained. “We moved around a lot between the U.S., Pakistan, and Switzerland for their jobs.”
Through growing up abroad and observing her parents’ careers, she originally thought she would pursue a job in the humanitarian field. Her career path led her other places.
Myra went to the University of New Hampshire for undergraduate, where she majored in Communications and International Affairs. She then went to graduate school at Boston University’s School of Education, where she received her master’s degree in International Education Development.
After graduating with her master’s degree, Myra had short stints at non-profit organizations in DC, working in education research and international development, but she ended up back in Boston.
“It was a winding path for sure,” Myra said of her journey from education research to career advising.
Myra explained that through an unexpected change in staffing, she found herself in a career working with students.
“I ended up getting a job at Harvard's Global Health Institute, and I was supposed to do something research and curriculum related, but the day I started, they actually needed someone to fill in to coordinate their experiential learning programs because of some staff changes,” Myra explained. “I was new at the job and of course eagerly offered to help out in any way.”
While it was not what Myra originally set out to do, she ended up working with students and loving it.
Myra also worked with humanitarian workers, as well as international students from all over the world. She not only worked with these students on educational and professional development, but she also gave support and assistance in their adjustment to an entirely new country.
“Know what your values and needs are, and your needs can and will change over time. Let that be your guide as you navigate uncertainties."
When Myra and her husband decided to move to Charlottesville, she saw an opening in the Career Services office at UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce. She knew many of the skills she developed working with students at Harvard could translate to this position.
“I learned a lot there [McIntire School of Commerce]. They have an incredible career office,” Blanchard noted. “So, I did that for about two and a half years before coming over today to data science and engineering.”
Only weeks after beginning her new role, Myra, her husband, and their lovably large American Mastiff, Socrates, welcomed a baby boy, Beau, into their family on New Year’s Eve 2018.
With the establishment of the School of Data Science in September of 2019, Blanchard looks forward to seeing and being a part of the growth and development of this twelfth school on Grounds.
“It’s really exciting to be a part of the birth and the growth of a new school,” Blanchard said.
“I think the biggest thing I want graduating students to remember is that this moment is just a tiny fraction of your whole life story,” Blanchard said. “Know what your values and needs are, and your needs can and will change over time. Let that be your guide as you navigate uncertainties. You first job out of school, and all the jobs in your life really, make up just one chapter in the story of your life.”