If you are juggling work, classes and home life, Linda Bajdo knows your pain. If you want a campus experience that’s welcoming and inclusive, she’s got your back. And if you are conflicted about the meaning of “success,” she has some insight she will gladly share.
“Just because you are successful in what you are doing,” says the Macomb psychology professor, “doesn’t mean you are doing what you should be doing.”
Shortly after earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Michigan State University, Bajdo was hired by Manpower Detroit, a staffing corporation, and began working her way through increasing levels of responsibility and stress. To ensure her career’s continued momentum following a divorce, she took night classes at Northwood University, earning an MBA while working full time and caring for her young son. She was vice president/area manager, responsible for operations at 10 offices when she decided to call it quits.
“I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but there weren’t many teaching jobs when I started college. I was encouraged to pursue something more practical,” says Bajdo. “After 10 years at Manpower, I knew I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. My professors at Northwood told me I should get my Ph.D. and teach. And, at first, I thought, ‘me, a Ph.D?’”
Remarried by then, and with the support of her husband, Michael, Bajdo made the leap from business executive to graduate student at Wayne State University. She chose a field that appealed to her, industrial and organizational psychology, which allowed her to put all that business experience to further use. Even before completing her Ph.D., Bajdo started working part time in Macomb’s Institutional Research Department and learning her away around campus.
“I fell in love with the College and with its students,” says Bajdo. “I had finally found someplace that matched my own personal values: Anyone can come here. Anyone can succeed.”
Her research work progressed to a full-time position, which was followed by an appointment to associate dean. Again, Bajdo found herself on a successful fast track, but it still wasn’t leading to where she wanted to go. When a full-time faculty position opened up in psychology in 2006, she didn’t need GPS to tell her she had arrived at her destination. Since then, Bajdo has been a champion of inclusion on the College’s campuses. She is a founding member of the Macomb Multicultural International Initiatives, the faculty advisor for the student LGBT Alliance and the coordinator of the SAFE @ Macomb program.
“There is nothing better than that feeling that you are doing what you are meant to be doing,” says Bajdo. “And when a former student calls me up to share some good news, it’s like receiving a huge bouquet of flowers. And when they ask if I remember them, I say: ‘Of course I do, you were unique and unforgettable.’”