Chelsea Dixon, M.S., M.A.T., on Learning from Mistakes and Not Burning Bridges

Noodle Expert Chelsea Dixon, M.S., M.A.T., talks to us about making a good impression, taking a cruise, and learning from Marian Wright Edelman, the founder of the Children's Defense Fund.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

Marian Wright Edelman. She is the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund, an organization that she founded in 1973 with the intention of being the voice of (and fighting for the rights and well-being of) children. She earned a law degree from Yale University and was the first African-American woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar. She has received over 100 honorary degrees and has earned many awards such as the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom. I would want to learn how to gain and keep the support of individuals and foundations for my organization, whose purpose is to provide academic and athletic programming for underserved and underrepresented youth in our urban communities.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

Don’t burn bridges. Be respectful to everyone. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Be grateful for the people in your life and for what you have. Granted, at times you may need to “close one door” in order for another door to open to new opportunities and possibilities. However, there is a kind way to go about doing it. As Maya Angelou once stated, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is important to remember because you never know when you are going to need someone’s help.

Where would you send a student who hasn’t traveled before?

It would depend on the background of the student, his or her needs and the purpose of the trip. Is it for fun? Is it for researching possible colleges to attend? Is the student traveling alone, with family and/or with friends? If it’s for fun, I would suggest going on a cruise. You can choose one that goes to many ports or one that just goes to just a few. Either way, you will be able to explore more than one place during the trip. If the trip is for researching possible colleges to attend, I would suggest visiting an area that has colleges in different environmental settings. This would allow for the student to see what it would be like to be on a city, suburban, or rural campus.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

Fortunately, I have never failed academically. But, there have been times in my life when things didn’t work out as I had originally planned. However, as with “failing” academics, there are lessons to be learned from any experience that doesn’t turn out as one would have hoped. If something doesn’t go as I have planned, then I will try it differently. If that doesn’t work, then I will try yet again, using a different approach. It’s important not to underestimate your capabilities. If you have faith in yourself and keep trying, you will ultimately be successful. You just cannot give up! As Henry Ford said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

About a year and half ago, I resigned from my full-time job to pursue my dream. I didn’t hate my job, but it just wasn’t fulfilling, and I knew there was more “out there” for me. I didn’t want another two, three, or even four years to go by and think that I should’ve “gone for it” years ago. I went into this field because it was time for me to do what I love, helping underserved and underrepresented youth. The level of satisfaction that I am experiencing is greater than what I expected. The number of students and families that I have been able to help has been wonderful.

Article Topics: