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Returning With a Responsibility – Wilson College News

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Returning With a Responsibility - Wilson College News

Written by Jessica Rolhach

Assistant Professor of Textiles, Apparel, Technology and Management (TATM) Kavita Mathur ’07 She knew exactly what she wanted to do after receiving her Ph.D. from the then-named College of Textiles in North Carolina State. Confidently, she wanted to stay in academia and become a professor.

A career-shaping conversation with her counselor can change direction. While her advisor emphasized her quest to become a professor, he also encouraged her to pursue industry experience.

“I took this advice very seriously,” she says. “I graduated in May and got my first job in October.”

If there is one thing Dr. Mathur shares with her students today, it is that they can trust the words of their professors. They were once students too.

In 2018, just over a decade after graduating, Mathur returned to campus. But this time, she was a faculty member. She brought with her her curiosity for solving everyday problems and her vast experience in developing innovative textile technology.

Knock, Knock… Chance

Before Mathur attended NC State for her Ph.D., she had already excelled in top programs in India. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Textiles and Apparel from Rajasthan Agricultural University in India. She later obtained her Master’s degree in Textiles and Apparel from SNDT University.

After completing a year-long internship and work, Mathur planned to pursue a Ph.D. in the United States. NC State was one of the schools on her application list, but Mathur remembers knowing very little about the university.

When Mathur first set foot on the NC State campus in 2003, it was during the summer. Before the fall season started, she said I knocked on door by door at the then-named College of Textiles. She was looking for job opportunities and ways to launch her search. It won’t take you long to experience what many people will tell you about college: It’s a family, and the professors are committed to helping students succeed.

“I felt like the professors were really helping,” Mathur says.

She knew that without funding, pursuing a Ph.D. would be a huge challenge. What she didn’t know was that she would eventually complete six projects during her PhD programme. Her success was fueled by making contact with professors.

“My consultants put me on different projects,” Mathur says. “This means I’ve got interdisciplinary experience with my Ph.D.”

She believes that this diversity of experiences, including her time as a research and teaching assistant, prepared her well for the industry environment. When Mathur graduated with her Ph.D. from college, she kicked off her career and kick-started her career.

Never too far from home

Mathur’s first job after graduation was with Precision Fabrics Group in Greensboro, North Carolina. She worked as the Technical Director of Research and Development for the Healthcare Products Division for nearly eight years. In her role, she has developed technical nonwovens for healthcare and medical applications. Mathur has been with the company for nearly a decade.

Although she was in Greensboro, she always stayed close to the university.

“It was like I had never left,” she says.

From helping out with senior design projects to keeping in touch with faculty, NC State has become a larger part of its story. She encourages students to stay connected, too – no matter where their next job is.

Mathur had another pit stop in the industry before returning to her alma mater. She was the Managing Director of Innovation and Patents at Welspun USA. Mathur gave brands a boost by helping them get their patents Technology to the next level. In this role, she took a closer look at the business side as well.

Between her two jobs in the industry, Mathur has gained experience in areas ranging from healthcare textiles to home textiles. Her former professors were also paying attention.

She often received invitations to apply for college, but she always had one word in mind: responsibility. If Mathur takes a professorship, it will be a long-term position.

“If I take on this job, I’m committed to it,” Mathur says of her decision-making process. “You can’t mentor without first thinking about commitment.”

For Mathur, being a professor is more than just a job. It is a commitment to the students, and I have carefully accepted the challenge. Saying ‘yes’ was a family decision, and Mathur is glad she never strayed from the place she calls ‘home’.

She is the expert in her field. Mathur recently joined forces with Associate Professor Ann Porterfield and graduate student Jasmine Jackson to provide her expertise for a program that is the first of its kind in the college. The group created a file Fashion program for middle school students Supported by a grant from the North Carolina Office of Communication and Engagement.

step outside school

Today, when asked about career advice, Mathur is ready to share it with her students. It encourages students to take what they have learned, explore the industry, and apply their skills.

“The industry challenges you to take a step forward beyond the lab space,” Mathur says.

She hopes that students remain open to exploring different experiences. In her case, her advisor came from the industry and had a lot of first-hand information to share.

Mathur says before deciding on your next career option, learn about the different options. Take advantage of practical opportunities to see how your research can be applied to real-world scenarios. In Mathur’s career, she had the opportunity to take everything she learned and test it.

“I did exactly what I learned during my degree programs — BA, MA, PhD,” she says.

Mathur’s career began transforming the industry. It’s a decision she highly recommends, and one that has left her no regrets.

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