Meet one of our Education Project Managers, Denise Borsuk. She’s part of the dedicated team that creates our courses that serve to educate many around the world. Denise went from working part-time to officially joining the team three years ago, and since then, her journey has been anything but ordinary. Read about her inspiring career path and how education has been a recurring theme in her professional development.
Saylor Academy: Tell us about yourself. What is your background? How long have you been with the team?
Denise: I grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, and then Singapore, and credit some of my early experiences and exposure for realizing the importance of education, especially for those around the world who face issues of access. After studying psychology and global development in college, I did a stint as a third-grade teaching assistant. That taught me that the front of a classroom is not my preferred place to be, but I still wanted to be involved in the world of education. I moved to Washington, DC, where I did some part-time work with Saylor Academy around eight years ago. I went on to work at several other nonprofit organizations and then rejoined the Saylor Academy team full time three years ago.
SA: What about your role? What is it that you do at Saylor Academy?
D: I’m one of the Education Project Managers, so I work closely with our subject matter experts and professors to review our courses, improve them, and prepare some of them for external credit-recommendation reviews.
SA: What does a typical workday look like for Denise?
D: I basically live in my email inbox and on Google Drive, communicating with professors and reviewing drafts of course edits or assessments. I get to set deadlines for professors and sometimes have to nudge them to turn things in, so I’m not saying the tables have turned, but in some ways, they have, haha!
SA: What is it that you like the most about your job?
D: I like that I’m working on something I care about, reducing barriers to education. I also work on courses where the subject matter is not what I studied or would naturally choose to. For instance, I’m really not an economics or finance type of person, but I’ve worked on several economics and business courses. So getting that exposure to lots of different subjects and learning materials is good for me!
SA: How do you think Saylor Academy helped you advance in your career? What are your hopes for the future of the organization?
D: The emphasis on continual learning is important. You’re never too old, and it’s never too late. Whatever it is you want to learn or are curious about, there’s plenty of resources out there. Saylor Academy has been able to grow quite a bit, and it’s great that we’re currently serving a large number of students around the world. I hope the organization will continue to grow and improve and continue serving its mission to offer free and open courses to anyone, anywhere.
SA: What do you like to do when you are not working?
D: I love traveling, and seeing new places – obviously this has been limited with the pandemic, but finding new places in the neighborhood or nearby is also great! I also love food. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural cook, but I enjoy trying new recipes, and also baking. I’m trying to get back into reading more and will take the occasional stab at watercolor painting or crochet or something. I’ve also amassed a large collection of houseplants, so I guess I’m one of those plant people now.
SA: Do you have a motto or personal mantra?
D: Maybe not strictly a motto, but I do like the question posed at the end of Mary Oliver’s poem The Summer Day: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
SA: If you had to eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
D: Oh, I like too many different foods for this question! My comfort food is Hainanese chicken rice, which is a very popular dish in Singapore. That said, every day for the rest of my life might be a bit much! If I could stretch the question a bit, I would probably say dumplings, as so many cuisines have some form of food enclosed in dough, so there would be lots of delicious variety that way.