In the wake of her graduation from Brown, Sharon Caraballo, now known as Sharon Adamus, set foot on a tenure-track path in computer science at Georgetown University, anticipating her career to be a traditional one dedicated to teaching and research.
“What I found most rewarding in my job was my interactions with students, so I started to look for a way to emphasize more of that in my career,” says Adamus; this longing for more meaningful exchanges prompted her to explore an alternate path. Eventually, she was led to George Mason University, where she became the new Associate Director of Undergraduate IT Programs – a role that blended teaching and administrative duties, overseeing approximately 1,400 students.
While administrative responsibilities were uncharted territory for her, Adamus decided to embrace the challenge because it seemed like a way to do good for a large population of students, and she feels that it turned out to be a very natural fit.
“If you had told me that I would find satisfaction in an administrative career five or ten years earlier, I never would have believed you,” Adamus says. Little did she know that this endeavor would prove to be a natural extension of her passion for guiding and transforming lives.
Adamus enjoyed her administrative work and was soon offered a role as Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Information Technology and Engineering, and, for the last twelve years, served as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs for the College of Engineering and Computing at George Mason University.
“The good I can do for an individual student is the most significant thing I can take away from my career,” Adamus says. “The lightning bolt for me at Georgetown that carried forward into my administrative career to this day is that I could have a fifteen-minute conversation with a student and change their life for the better in a real way, and that is incredibly satisfying.”
When asked about her most cherished memory throughout her career, Adamus fondly recalls her time just after the year 2000 when she encountered numerous computer science students who had chosen their path solely based on believing that it was the most “lucrative” career, and not because they had any authentic passion in the field.
This experience prompted her to impart her most invaluable advice to her students – encouraging them to embrace their true ambitions rather than succumbing to someone else’s preconceived expectations. “This was about having those conversations with students and opening them up to the idea that it’s worthwhile to pursue your passion and not just what you think you’re supposed to do,” Adamus says.
“In fact, what really prompted change to me was listening to the advice I was giving students and realizing that I could follow it myself,” Adamus states.
And so she did. Although Adamus had always been intrigued with acting and had performing in the back of her mind earlier in her career, she never thought about pursuing it. Surprisingly, her interest in the performing arts blossomed from her role as an educator.
“In a way, my interest in acting really grew out of my teaching,” Adamus says, mentioning that teaching a class in-person gives way to positive engagement with students and an incredible energy flowing back and forth.
“I found myself saying, ‘This is so great, I would love to find a way to do more of this’,” she tells us. “Through teaching and through presenting research, I had gotten very comfortable with ‘performing’ in front of people, so I decided to give it a go. I reached a point in my life where I said, ‘If I don’t do it now, when am I ever going to do it?’”
Fuelled by her experiences as an educator and a researcher and by her interest in musical theater, Adamus then began her training in 2009 with voice lessons and acting classes and completed her first audition for The Sound of Music with the City of Fairfax Theater Company in Fairfax, Virginia, which marked her first community theater debut in 2011.
“Since then, I have continued to do community theater, but also film work, and have also done some professional work both onstage and screen,” states Adamus regarding her future aspirations in her acting career. “I am also earning a BFA degree in theater with a concentration in Performance for Stage and Screen at George Mason this semester.”
Adamus is stepping down from her current position and returning to full-time teaching as a Professor in the Information Sciences and Technology department, where she will be teaching undergraduate IT courses in an online asynchronous format while moving to her new home in Arizona. Already, she is seeking connections with theater and film opportunities in the nearby vicinity.
“What I am going to be doing professionally is teaching asynchronously online, and that means that I will have a lot of flexibility and freedom in my schedule to be able to pursue these opportunities,” she says.
When asked to share her advice, Adamus tells current students to leave themselves open. “Just because you envisioned your future a certain way, just because you think it’s what you’re supposed to do, you shouldn’t let yourself get locked in because of that,” says Adamus. “If you feel yourself being called in another direction, I think the best thing you can do is explore that.”
For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communications Manager Jesse C. Polhemus.