Why this ‘Big Bang Theory’ star wants to help you get your childhood dream job

Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik has never stopped learning (she has a PhD in neuroscience) and is passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

How many of us can actually say we currently fulfilling our childhood dreams? Of course, space cowboy is a tough job to get but truthfully nearly half of American workers (49%) still say their current role isn’t related to their childhood passion. Isn’t that a little sad? But just because you are an adult it doesn’t have to be the end of your dreams. You can still learn new skills even if you haven’t been in school for decades.

That is why Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik partnered with Pearson, the digital education company on its new campaign, “Dare to Learn, Dare to Change.” Though Bialik has been acting since she was a child (Beaches, Blossom) her story is a little bit different than most of Hollywood. After a successful career as a teen actress, Bialik went to school to pursue her passion, which came in the form of a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007. Though she did return to acting on the hit show The Big Bang Theory (in which she plays hilarious neurobiologist Ph.D.Amy Farrah Fowler), Bialik, a published author now, has never stopped learned and is passionate about encouraging others to do the same.

According to data from Pearson, almost two-thirds of the working adults surveyed (66%) say they would like to return to education, and 70% agree they would be a better student as an adult than as a child. More than a third of working adults say they are motivated to return to school to get a better job (35%) or learn new skills for their current career (34%), nearly the same number as those who want to pursue a new interest (37%). But alas as we grow up and start living our lives, life gets in the way and education gets put to the side.

But programs like this are built to help you break out of the “life as an excuse” school of thought. Ladders spoke with Bialik about her passion for adult education, the end of The Big Bang Theory, and how she always stays in learning mode

Dare to learn

“As someone who started my career as a scientist after already having a separate and successful career as an actress, I was so delighted to participate in a campaign about how important it is to pursue your passion and even change your life by being brave enough to dare to learn and change. So many of us can get pigeonholed or even complacent about what we think we’re supposed to do. I am someone who really took a big leap and pursued science when so many people told me that I should just stick with acting. Although I am acting again now, my doctorate and the things that I learned and experienced when I became a scientist are with me forever.”

How to not let life get in the way

“It’s something that often sounds easy to say but not easy to do. There are so many obstacles which are real and which I experienced myself. Financial concerns, time constraints, obligations to family. One of the things that I love about Pearson is how much support they provide for those willing to take these challenges head-on. There absolutely are ways to get the support you need to make that change, and for me, committing to taking on those challenges has been the best decision I have ever made.”

On life after the bang

“I think that I will stay in the acting world but will continue to advocate for all sorts of educational pursuits, particularly encouraging young people to get involved in the STEM field!

I will miss all of the friendly faces I get to see on a daily basis. Not just our cast, but our entire crew, our production staff and all of our writers that make it a really nice family. Although I am sure we will find ways to keep in touch, there is nothing like the connection that we have on set.”

On making time for all her pursuits

“I still operate on a 24-hour day just like everyone else, and I have all of the challenges that divorced moms of two kids who work full-time have. I dedicate a lot of what otherwise would be free time to doing the advocacy work that I do, the charity work that I do, running my website groknation.com, and making videos for YouTube. I have a very busy schedule and I have a very efficient assistant. My ‘secrets’ are that I lower my expectations for how clean I want my house to be (I don’t use a nanny or a housekeeper), I have a very simple social life, and I don’t watch television often. Those are major timesavers!”

Pearson partners with more than 40 higher education institutions across the U.S. to offer nearly 300 flexible online learning programs, with more than 80,000 students enrolled in degree programs. Pearson also teamed up with Nesta and the Oxford Martin School to study the future of work and skills.

Meredith Lepore|is the Deputy Editor of Ladders and can be reached at mlepore@theladders.com.