Vicente Rodilla Alama, lecturer and International Relations coordinator at the Faculty of Health Sciences, has been active at the CEU Cardenal Herrera University since October of the year 2000. With all these years of experience, he has become an essential part of the Faculty of Health Sciences. He explains us a little bit how he got to this point in his career and the decisions he had to make along the way.
Where did you work before coming to the CEU Cardenal Herrera University?
Before I started working at the CEU, I was a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and later on at the Robert Gordon University, also in Aberdeen. I lived there for 9 years and then I decided it was time to move back to Spain.
What degree did you study and why did you choose it?
I graduated as General Practitioner in Biology, but I never practised this specialization. I followed one of my other interests: toxicology. I liked toxicology because of it is very diverse and interdisciplinary. The field of toxicology is constantly changing, it challenges me to keep learning and never settle for what I already know.
Have you ever had the opportunity to participate in an Erasmus, or similar, programme?
Unfortunately, nothing like that existed when I was studying. Students going abroad to study were very rare. I would have loved to participate in a programme like Erasmus, I would have gone as many times as possible. I like to think of myself as a cosmopolite, a citizen of the world. Getting to meet people from different places and cultures is something I find very enriching. I try to learn from things they do better and perhaps teach them about things we handle better, that way we can combine our knowledge and get the best results.
As for your current job, could you describe your main responsibilities?
My main responsibility is teaching. I lecture the course ‘Introduction to Medicine’ to medical students and ‘Toxicology’ to veterinary and pharmaceutical students. Besides this, I am also active as the International Affairs Coordinator for the faculty of Health Sciences. During my career, I have often been connected with international affairs, because it is another thing that has always interested me. In Aberdeen, I was appointed Erasmus coordinator as soon as Erasmus programme started. When I arrived here at the CEU, I continued to do this.
Was this the kind of career you had in mind when you graduated?
No, I didn’t want to teach. Don’t get me wrong, I like teaching, but when I graduated I wanted to do research. Nowadays, I barely do any research. I would like to go back to doing some more research again. This would mean less teaching-hours every week and taking a step back from my duties as the International Relations Coordinator, but for me, doing more research would make my position the best it could be.
Is there a path that you have consciously avoided during your career?
Yes, I think everyone at some point had to make decisions that ruled out certain career paths or opportunities. I remember a particular example: after I finished my PhD-thesis, I applied for a very good position. When it was offered to me, I turned it down. I did the same when I was headhunted for what seemed to be an ideal position, but I wanted to move on and do something else. They were very surprised I didn’t take the position, but I was very certain that it was not the next step I wanted to take in my career.
What would you consider to be your biggest achievement so far?
I would not say I have one big achievement, rather plenty of small ones. Personally, I consider it an achievement when a student tells you he or she enjoyed your lectures. It’s always great when they let you know that you made them see their degree, whether Toxicology or Science in general, in a different way and that they got a new perspective on things from my lectures. There was one student that I’ll never forget. He made a public thesis statement and said he wanted to thank me for giving him a free spirit. This is something that truly touched me, but I am not looking to influence people. I want to teach them things that might help them take a step forward in their lives, not just their careers.
This report has been prepared from an interview by Amélie Windels, who is doing an internship from the KH Leuven, Belgium