At 50 years old, Paulette Brown earned her degree and the skills needed to succeed as a secretary for Ebony Vision
“All of the skills I acquired at Marian University I use on a daily basis,” said the 2012 Organizational Communication graduate, who in September 2013 joined the organization that aims to educate and enhance the African American culture in Fond du Lac and its surrounding communities. “Whether I’m compiling meeting minutes, crafting social media content, conducting research, editing our newsletters or even putting together videos, I’m using something that I learned in my seven years there.”
But while her time at Marian spanned 2005-2012, her journey toward earning her degree at age 50 started well before that. Born in Iowa, and raised while attending private Catholic schools in Chicago, her first college experience came at the Taylor Business Institute of Chicago, where she earned an associate’s degree that emphasized the secretarial field, including speed writing and stenography.
Dabbling in that industry while living in Chicago, she went on to have four children, but eventually had to start being the one to care for her grandmother as the years went on. Seeing the situation Paulette was in, her brother – living in Fond du Lac – urged her to move closer to him and start a new chapter. Not too long after making the move, she became a telemarketer.
“I was like – c’mon Paulette, you can do better than this,” she said, reflecting on what she describes as five years of getting hung up on or called a name. “Thankfully people saw potential in me and urged me to explore Marian’s educational offerings for adults. I knew it was prestigious, so I thought – I’m here, why not take the chance?”
Doing so connected her with Tracy Qualmann, who not only introduced Paulette the offerings of the Adult Accelerated Program, but also the Organizational Communication major.
“At that time, at my age, and with kids at home, I thought ‘How am I ever going to do this?’ but she was so very spirited and supportive and showed me that everything about Marian was about convenience,” Paulette said.
This allowed her to be part-time, attending two night classes after work each week. Then, when the company she was telemarketing for went bankrupt, she was able to go full-time.
She recalls how helpful the faculty and staff were, assisting her whenever she had to miss class due to being sick, or needing an extension on an assignment because life was getting too overwhelming. There was even a time where an administrator sought her out to deliver a soon-to-expire financial aid check.
“I was just so excited to be at Marian that I had completely forgotten to go pick it up,” Paulette laughed. “But that interaction, it really encompasses everything Marian is and what it stands for.”
Financial aid wasn’t all Marian did to help Paulette when it came to making her education affordable. She also took advantage of Marian’s work study offerings after hearing about them from fellow student Anna M. Wilson – another individual she credits with being able to help her navigate the work-life balance of her time in school, and who was her advisor for the two years Paulette worked in housekeeping.
It was also at this time that the company Paulette was telemarketing for went bankrupt, allowing her to become a full-time student and graduate quicker.
And upon graduating, she was pretty quick to be hired, too – in need of a new secretary, and fast, Ebony Vision President Daisy Frazier sought out Paulette to fill the role, knowing her from church and knowing the skills she had acquired along with her Marian education.
It was all a whirlwind, to say the least, but Paulette finds it remarkable how closely her journey aligned with two of her favorite Bible verses…
Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.