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Ph.D. Connections Career Conference Keynote Address: Finding My Voice—A Journey of Self-Advocacy and Belonging in Academia and Beyond

Friday, March 22, 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT

This keynote dives into the experience of an international scholar navigating complex academic pathways and career choices. It offers a fresh perspective on forging a unique path with confidence and self-advocacy, engaging the audience with anecdotes of overcoming hurdles and celebrating triumphs. Beyond personal experiences, it invites exploration of the shared lessons we learn on our professional journeys and the profound impact self-discovery has on our personal and professional fulfillment.

Introductory remarks will be given by Rackham Dean and Vice-Provost for Academic Affairs Mike Solomon.

About Roshni Rao:

Roshni Rao is a transformative leader in higher education, currently serving as the executive director of doctoral and postdoctoral career design at Johns Hopkins University (JHU). She specializes in enhancing the career trajectories of Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows, particularly those from underrepresented and international backgrounds. Rao has established an innovative career hub that offers scalable and modern career and professional development opportunities. Her initiatives are notable, including a global career conference with speakers such as Tan France and Trevor Noah, the formation of the university’s first Black and Latinx conferences, and the creation of the first doctoral hiring event. Furthermore, she initiated the JHU Career Impact Awards, which underscore community engagement, and she founded an inclusive research communication competition emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As an influential speaker, Rao has been featured at the National Cancer Institute, the University of Mississippi, Texas A&M University, Penn State, the University of Illinois, and other esteemed venues. Her work has been recognized with multiple honors, including the Diversity Recognition Award from JHU, as well as Supervisor of the Year and Staff Excellence Awards.

Before joining Johns Hopkins, Rao made significant contributions to the National Institute on Aging as the associate director, where she received the Kelly Distinguished Service Award for her role in postdoctoral career development. Rao holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences from the University of South Carolina and a postgraduate diploma in science from the University of Otago in New Zealand. Her articles in Inside Higher Ed, which focus on building career offices and supporting international students, have established her as a thought leader in the Ph.D. career landscape. Her continued efforts inspire and guide the next generation of scholars.

Ph.D. Connections is a career conference designed to support doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows in their exploration of career paths beyond academia. Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows will learn about career opportunities beyond the professoriate through engaging sessions with Ph.D.s in diverse fields. The conference is co-sponsored by the University Career Center, Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Registration is required at

We want to ensure full and equitable participation in our events. If an accommodation would promote your full participation in this event, please follow the registration link to indicate your accommodation requirements. Please let us know as soon as possible in order to have adequate time, preferably one week, to arrange for your requested accommodations or an effective alternative.


Friday, March 22
10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
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Event Type
Lecture / Discussion
Rackham Graduate School (Horace H.)


Amphitheatre, 4th Floor, Rackham Building
915 East Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109 United States
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