Tara Natarajan

Faculty, Parent

Employer: Saint Michael’s College

Title: Professor of Economics and Chair of the Department

Can you start by telling us a little about yourself? (For e.g. where do you live? What do you do for a living? What are your favorite hobbies/activities outside of work?)
I live in the New North End of Burlington. I am a Professor of Economics at Saint Michael’s College and currently Chair of the Department. I am also Chair of the Faculty Welfare Committee at the College and on the President’s Vision Team. I was born and brought up in India. I am Tamilian (South Indian State of Tamil-Nadu). I am a cook with a wide range of abilities at cooking varieties of global cuisines — all vegetarian. I cook traditional Tamilian Food, Punjabi Food and a variety of other Indian regional cuisines. I also make all kinds of gourmet foods (non-Indian). I am a born vegetarian. I am also a trained vocalist in South Indian Classical Music. I love music, dance and the performing arts.

Can you describe your Saint Michael’s College experience?
Since I am a faculty member, my “experience” is vastly different from that of a student. I came to Saint Michael’s in 2001 with a little kid who is now a Sophomore here at St. Mikes! I made my home here in Burlington and at Saint Michael’s — I have an extended family of very close friends at the college. The college was bigger and more resource rich when I arrived here in 2001. I was able to bring Indian music concerts to the college — musicians of extraordinary caliber. I have been able to offer team taught courses over the years — courses that are perfect for a liberal arts college.

What advice would you give to current female students?
My advice to female students is — don’t be afraid to be serious and driven. Don’t try to please males or your female friends to win their admiration. To all students — get off devices and social media. BUILD REAL CONNECTIONS. Also, don’t buy into stereotypes of any kind. Always work hard and don’t let anyone tell you that you are “pushy” or “aggressive”. Just do good work and be HAPPY! We are all people first and foremost.

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Figure out what you are good at and speak up. Regardless of whether you are male or female, just focus on values, and be conscientious in what you do. Listen well, open your heart and have conviction. I work extremely hard and learn a lot in order to serve on committees that are crucial to the institution. Hard work over time — it’s not a “strategy” but the path to building good organizations and a good society.

What keeps you motivated and driven every day?
Life itself.
Being rooted in my home culture of India while living away from home in a plural global culture.
My daughter, my parents, my husband and a lineage of strong motivated women, especially my grandmother who helped me internalize the joy of being intellectually driven, autonomous, living with purpose; being mentally and physically active.
The joy of being and doing!