UT Dallas Magazine

Failing with Grace — and Rising

Lelia Gowland BA'08

When Lelia Gowland graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, her plan was to earn a prestigious fellowship, followed by a career in public policy. But when the former McDermott Scholar’s application to her program of choice was rejected, she initially felt that she had failed.

“There is so much pressure to succeed,” she said. “And yet, one of the things that UTD did beautifully for me — especially the McDermott Office — was to help me bounce back from failure and learn to fail with grace.” 

Encouraged by her UTD support network, Lelia applied for a second program that indirectly ended up paying for her graduate study at the University of Michigan. 

In hindsight, she said the perceived failure actually led to a “much better fit.” 

In 2016, Lelia returned to UTD to share her experience with students during Graduate Professional Week. 

Today, she is an accomplished consultant, speaker and writer who focuses on improving workplace dynamics for women. As the founder of Gowland LLC, Lelia spends her days working to empower women in the workplace by leading workshops and retreats, offering consultations to businesses that want to recruit and retain female talent, and providing e-courses on negotiations for women. The company’s tagline is “Making Work Work for Women.” 

Additionally, Lelia is a regular contributor to Forbes and has been featured in publications including Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan.