Helping others navigate programs and cultures
“The ‘life things’ are hard when you’re in a new environment.”
“I came back to the business school to see if anyone needed assistance over the summer,” she explained. As luck would have it, two admissions employees would be on maternity leave and, yes, the office could use some extra help.
She never ended up taking the museum job.
What started as a summer stint helping with new student orientation evolved into her dream job, meeting her career goals of working with a mission-driven organization that had education as a purpose with a bonus: opportunities for travel. It has turned into a nearly 30-years-and-counting career at Emory.
Ruskin is currently the director of MBA international and joint degree programs at Goizueta. It’s a role that suits her personality — vibrant, intelligent, old school and empathetic — and her wealth of experience.
Like many of the MBA students she counsels, Ruskin studied two different disciplines — psychology and art history — during undergrad at Duke, and she studied abroad in Italy for a summer. Also, her family hosted a Dutch exchange student, and her grandparents often hosted visitors and traveled to Asia and Africa.
These early experiences along with her tenure as an admissions officer and director of academic advising plus her years as director of the MBA Program Office, combine to make her a fountain of knowledge for her students and other staff at the Business School.
On any given day, Ruskin is busy helping students acclimate to a new country and business school. Ruskin even goes beyond the call of duty when students face transportation, financial or housing challenges by running errands, assisting with emergency loan applications, or offering a spare bedroom until an apartment is secured.
“The ‘life things’ are hard when you’re in a new environment,” she explains, on why it’s important to “on board” students well. “This way, when classes start, they’re ready to focus on academics and the dynamics with other students.”
“One thing I love about Emory is its focus on the students and in meeting what their personal educational goals are."
Students who are completing two degrees at Emory work with Ruskin to personalize a plan to meet their academic and professional goals. Navigating between two schools with different degree requirements can be challenging. She explains, “The limitations and complications of completing two degrees include calendars that overlap, registration periods that don’t overlap, changes in course offerings and job search processes.” Ruskin works as a liaison to assist the students in all the details from financial aid and course enrollment through fulfilling graduation requirements in each program.
Ruskin has done some recent acclimating herself; she often jokes about how long it took her to get a cell phone, but she’s aware of how technology has evolved the ways we learn and do business today.
“How we experience business and culture in different parts of the world has changed dramatically. When I started college, the only way to [do so] was to travel abroad for a semester,” she said. “It’s hard to imagine how things got done before computers.”
Some things haven’t changed, though. Ruskin says what makes people want go to graduate school are the same. She also knows that, at Goizueta, students are getting a similar classroom experience as she did. They’re being challenged; they’re having vibrant discussions; they’re getting personal attention.
“One thing I love about Emory is its focus on the students and in meeting what their personal educational goals are,” she said.
...she suspects that, had she gone into the corporate world, she probably would’ve changed jobs often. Instead, she found the right fit: a dynamic, multifaceted career at Emory.
Ruskin realizes her own goals may not have been typical for an MBA; she suspects that, had she gone into the corporate world, she probably would’ve changed jobs often. Instead, she found the right fit: a dynamic, multifaceted career at Emory. And while it keeps her quite busy, she does manage to find some downtime.
She enjoys cooking and having her family and friends over for dinner, walking her two dogs (a poodle and a Bernese mountain dog), visiting art and history museums (including the one she almost worked at), and attending the opera (she’s a season-ticket holder).
She remains active with the Girl Scouts of America and coordinates a mixed-age troop — kindergarten through eleventh grade — through skill- and character-building activities from earning badges to camping to cookie sales to community service and travel.
With a laugh, Ruskin admits the passage of time. “Some of the first girls I worked with are now married!”