Paula Dofat of ‘Step’ discusses her journey and passion for education

Colette Greenstein | 8/10/2017, 6 a.m.
Paula Dofat, director of college counseling at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, is one of the subjects of ...
Paula Dofat (left) and Blessin Giraldo from the film “Step.” Fox Searchlight Pictures

Now, 20 years later, armed with the knowledge and wisdom culled from her own setbacks and successes, Dofat hopes that she can impart a few lessons to young women — one of which is “Do your research.” She assigns students the task of researching community colleges, as well as state and Ivy League schools, in order “to make sure that they explore all of their options, and that they don’t miss out on something.” In her many years as an educator, Dofat has come to the conclusion that “we have a whole section of people who are trying to academically ‘Keep up with the Joneses’ and who simply want to go to these name brand schools,” as she calls them. Part of her goal is to change the young women’s mindset about these colleges and universities, and assist them in finding the school that best fits and serves their needs.

Of her own college experiences, Dofat said, “I found out that this tiny little college in Connecticut was the best place for me, but I was fighting tooth and nail to get to the Ivy League because I was trying to prove something. Ultimately, I got the best education I think that I could have gotten at the other place. I take nothing away from any school. It’s an individual success journey, and that’s what I want everyone to get, even when they watch this movie: to understand that it’s an individual success journey.”