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Anita Pokorny, assistant dean of students

Leaders Who Care: Anita Pokorny

“My high school guidance counselor actually told me I was not college material and I shouldn’t even go to college.”

Anita Pokorny, Northeast Ohio Medical University College of Medicine assistant dean of students, remembers that comment very clearly.

Despite the poor advice, Pokorny now serves College of Medicine students as a self-described “glorified guidance counselor.”

“In high school, they’re the ones you go to for career advice. They’re the ones you go to for support. They’re the person that just looks out for everybody. That’s the way I think of myself, as the assistant dean of students,” explains Pokorny.

A career with purpose

Although higher education wasn’t always at the forefront of Pokorny’s career goals, she’s glad she discovered the path to student affairs.

“I think I have always had the best job here. Our students are just incredible. They’re so bright, so talented and so motivated. I think they keep me young and at the same time, most of the gray hairs on my head are from them – more than from my own children,” says Pokorny with a smile.

Right now, she’s spending a lot of time with third- and fourth-year College of Medicine students as they begin to think about which specialties they’d like to pursue and prepare for residencies.

Setting students on the right path

Medical school can be hectic, but with the guidance of faculty and staff like Pokorny, students receive encouragement that Pokorny didn’t necessarily get in her early years.

Her advice for students?

“Be true to yourself. Getting advice from other people is a great idea, but in the end, be true to yourself. You know yourself better than anybody else.”