Fotini Karabinas ’20 made her mark on Merrimack, and now, she’s doing the same in the public school system. While she pursued two bachelor’s degrees in history and secondary education, Fotini worked on and off campus in several capacities. As a TA with the Compass Program, an RA with the department of Residence Life, and a substitute teacher for Wilmington Public Schools, her diverse and varied work experience made her the ideal candidate for her latest position: an assistant and supervisor with Northbridge Public Schools. As primary and secondary schools adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic, Fotini has worked alongside them to manage and smooth out the transition process. Today, she joins us to discuss the role, her time at Merrimack, and advice for the future.
DAN ROUSSEL: Hi Fotini! You started working in the Northbridge Public Schools as an educational hub supervisor not too long ago, and you were recently promoted! First, can you tell us how you originally found the job in Northbridge, and how you navigated the post-graduation job hunt? What did you do in between graduation and starting your job?
FOTINI KARABINAS: Hi! It was definitely unique. While even during normal times, searching jobs online is my go-to, my process definitely changed. I had to re-assess my strengths, weaknesses, and overall what I was looking for, and how I could best use my knowledge and skills. I was a TA during my last semester in college, and I saw how important classroom management was. While I was looking at the job description for the “educational hub supervisor,” I saw a clear connection between the two. Between graduating, and my first day on the job, I actually took some time off! I was able to really reflect on who I was as a person, and what I could offer this new world of education.
I’m glad you had some time to reflect! And congrats on your promotion to a technology teacher assistant! Can you tell us more about what you’re doing in this new role?
Thank you so much! Once the district moves into a hybrid-instruction model, with some kids coming in-person and some attending virtually, I will be assisting the school’s technology teacher with the in-person portion of the class. Because she is unable to come into the classroom with the current health concerns, I was chosen to help.
Speaking of your time at Merrimack, how did you grow in your time here? Were there any influential clubs, jobs, professors, or moments for you?
My whole Merrimack experience has led not only to the person I am, but also to the way I approach my personal and professional life. Throughout the various positions I have held, and the interactions I have had with professors and staff, I found confidence in my abilities, and pride in what I do. Before Merrimack, I used to be that person that was often shying away from what I did, and shrugging off any kind of praise. Now I am able to look back at my Merrimack experience, and to see that I should be proud of what I have accomplished, and take pride in everything. My mistakes have made me stronger. My accomplishments have taught me how to truly help and support others.
The O’Brien Center helped me by showing me what my positions meant. I initially had a very hard time coming up with job descriptions and skills that I acquired from the positions I was a part of; the O’Brien Center was able to help me navigate through that. This allowed me to understand how I can better market myself, and display the right skills for any position I am looking for.
Fotini, do you plan to stay in education long-term, or do you have different career ambitions down the road?
I am a firm believer that since everyone has the capacity to learn, everyone should be given access to quality education. While I am not sure where the road will lead me on my path, I hope to bridge the gap between higher education and secondary education. I believe that we are seeing a shift in how students approach higher education—but also how they prepare to enter higher education. I hope to somehow use my experiences at both levels and combine them to better support the students of tomorrow.
Very inspiring! You’re forging such a strong path for yourself. As we wrap up, what advice would you give to current students, or even to your Class of 2020 peers?
Take any opportunity that is thrown your way. My original plans for this year were very different from what I am currently doing, but that does not mean I am not learning. Everything that comes through your path is there to make you grow as a professional, but also as a person, and at the end of the journey, part of your experience.
Fotini, thank you for your generous advice, and for sitting down with us! We’re so happy to see you thriving. Have a great day!
Are you ready to secure an internship or employment for the fall and beyond? The O’Brien Center for Career Development is here to help you! Visit Handshake today to search for open opportunities, meet with your career advisor, and more.