Womanhood, Work, and the World: Interview with Prof. Farah Sanders  

Reading Time: 3 minutes “UVU has opened doors for people,” said UVU communication professor Farah Sanders, dually noting the doors UVU opened for her as well. “We offer some opportunities that are just unique.”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

A pioneer for UVU’s public relations and strategic communication (PRSC) degree program, communication professor Farah Sanders recalls  “[being at UVU] when there was only two of us teaching public relations, and we have built up to a faculty of over 20.” 

“It’s just been really amazing to kind of see us grow, and also to see our students once they graduate and the jobs that they go into,” she stated.   

Sanders is passionate and vocal about women’s rights and empowerment. “I think [education] plays almost every role,” she said, noting how getting an education can give women direction and guidance, as well as opportunities to provide for themselves and their families.  

Education also inspires and empowers women “to be leaders both in local leadership and national leadership,” she said, referencing her https://www.abc4.com/news/wasatch-front/utah-valley-university-professor-called-to-decorate-white-house-for-the-holidays/, who is also an educator. “It just goes to show like with education, you can go anywhere, and I hope women will see that they can do anything,” expressed Sanders.  

Throughout my life, there have been so many women who have been both an influence and a support to me, as I’ve worked towards my both my education and being an educator and being a professor in the field of communication,” Sanders continued.  

Sanders comes from a long line of strong female role models, such as her great, great-grandmother, who was the first woman to graduate with a diploma from what is now Utah State University. Her science education degree inspired Sanders and instilled in her a love and respect for educators at a very young age: “I remember there wasn’t even a question when I wanted to go into, you know, education or get my degree.” Her dream was reinforced by her hardworking mother, who completed her master’s degree while raising a young family with another child on the way.  

After earning a degree in communication, she deferred her plan to go to law school. Instead, she co-instructed UVU’s PRSC Case Studies course for five years while simultaneously working in public relations. Now in her second decade of work with the communication department, Sanders said co-instructing reignited her passion for education. The “truly pivotal” moment in her career trajectory came with “the opportunity to move from an adjunct to a full-time faculty member.” She then earned her master’s degree in education with an emphasis in communication instruction. 

Sanders is teaching an in-person and an online section of PRSC Case Studies (COMM 3520) for the fall 2024 semester. The course is mandatory to complete the PRSC degree’s current curriculum.  

Since entering the workforce, maintaining a healthy work-life balance hasn’t been fluid for Sanders: “I can’t say I’ve always had a healthy work-life balance and there’s times I don’t have a healthy work-life balance.” Specifically referencing habits from her early career days prior to UVU, Sanders said, “I always wanted to be first to show up and last to leave and that became exhaustive and part of it was, I felt I needed to do it to keep my job.” Luckily, “UVU allows me a better work/life balance than I’ve had anywhere else.” 

Sanders advises women to “look for an employer who respects you and respects that work-life balance need, and if you feel your employer isn’t doing that – talk to people, let them know your needs.” She emphasizes learning and understanding the legal rights and protections employees are guaranteed: “But I think it’s important to really look at who is your employer, and what do they expect of you and are those realistic expectations?” 

By advocating for fair representation in high-level board rooms and decision-making processes, Sanders wants women to be recognized, heard, and considered “[in] comparison to our counterparts.” She diligently stands up against and inspires other women in the public relations and education fields to stand up for equitable pay, proper medical care, adequate maternity leave and more.  

“A big challenge for women across the board and women in academia is to be heard and to be seen as having the same abilities and the same knowledge levels, and also to be respected for our work,” explained Sanders. “I’ve had people take credit for my work. And those have been challenging moments,” she said, again reflecting on her days before UVU. She was faced with a dilemma and unsure whether to let it go, but with the advice of a supportive supervisor, she decided to speak up.  

Navigating the world of women’s healthcare put Sanders in a position to fight and advocate for herself. “There are times when I’ve been able to go toe-to-toe with a doctor and say, well, respectfully, I disagree,” she said, noting that women’s healthcare and medicine still have room for much-needed improvement.  

Sanders is very grateful to the community of UVU staff and faculty that inspired her, gave her opportunities and believed in her. “I am so proud of all of the women at UVU and all of the men and young men that support them,” she expressed.  

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