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You Can Do WHAT With a (Psychology) Degree?
“People ask me, ‘Do you wish you had gotten a degree in human resources instead of psychology?’, and my answer is ‘No,’” said Trustee Julie Weber, BA ’91, who took her psychology degree from UD to become the VP and Chief of People at Southwest Airlines.

After graduating from UD, Weber went on to obtain an M.A. in counseling psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. Though she had hopes of becoming a counselor, Weber’s plans were thrown off course by a suffering job market and an abundance of student debt. Needing direction, Weber reached out to her former psychology professor Scott Churchill, and he suggested that she pursue a career in human resources. Immediately after this phone call, Weber typed up a resume, checked the Sunday paper for job openings, and landed a recruiting position in Dallas at a staffing agency. “And you know, I found something I really loved,” she said. 

Weber pointed out that even though she had just finished graduate school, she reached out to one of her undergraduate professors at UD.

“This speaks to the community UD creates and how you can really use the professors as counselors,” she said. “That phone call was monumental for me, and Dr. Churchill probably doesn’t even remember it.” 

In Weber’s next recruiting position, she had the opportunity to help create a corporate HR department, which she did for 10 years and loved. Weber was first hired at Southwest as director of employment, a position that oversaw the whole recruiting and talent acquisition function of the People Office. Fourteen years later, Weber is now the VP and chief of the People Office at Southwest Airlines. 

This past summer, Weber was named to Comparably’s list of “50 Leaders Driving Positive Change.” 

“It’s not me; it’s the team,” said Weber when asked about this achievement. Her leadership philosophy is one of servant leadership. 

“One of the best compliments a leader can have is seeing someone who worked for them surpass them,” she said. 

Weber also remarked that her studies in phenomenological theory as an undergraduate at UD help her to be the leader she is today. Through her understanding of phenomenology — the study of how each individual perceives the world differently — Weber is able to sort through the challenges that come from dealing with large and diverse groups of people. 

Weber says that UD still contributes to her success today through three major skills developed during her undergraduate education: critical thinking, writing well, and the ability to have strong conversations and debate with her classmates. 

“When you get into business, the ability to have a diverse group of people who can debate and dialogue about a situation in order to arrive at a solution is a critical skill,” she explained. 

Weber can relate to current UD seniors who will be graduating during the unprecedented coronavirus pandemic and all else that this year has brought, as she also graduated during a difficult economic time. Weber advises these students, “Know that you are strong, know that you are resilient, and know there are jobs out there. Don’t be afraid of making a mistake with that first job you take. Everything is a learning experience, and you can walk away from absolutely anything and learn. Pay less attention to the money and title, but instead, think about how it’s going to grow you and how you’re going to contribute, because all that matters at the end of the day is that you feel like you added value.” 

She also attributed her success to the Rome Program, which allowed her to experience new cultures and grow in responsibility. These reasons, and Churchill's phone call, set her on the trajectory to where she is today as a UD trustee. Ultimately, now she wants to give back. 

“I give a lot of credit to the University of Dallas for where I am today,” she said.

 
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Nov 23, 2020

Turning to retired University Historian Sybil Novinski, Hibbs told her, “Eileen and I as students recognized your work. You’re a Renaissance woman and philosopher queen, who understands the...

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