Marjorie Brown has a vivid memory of her first day in public speaking class at Berkeley College in Midtown Manhattan. It also was her first quarter as a returning college student enrolled in the Health Services Management bachelor’s degree program.
“I was surrounded by young people who were the same age as my own children and I was very intimidated by the instructor,” said Ms. Brown, 44, and a mother of three. “I felt very uncomfortable and decided then and there that I wouldn’t be returning to this class. In fact, I was seriously thinking about dropping out of college altogether.”
But Ms. Brown did return to the public speaking class the following week. She also remained behind after class to speak with her instructor, Valerie Small. That’s when everything began to change in the student’s life.
“When I enrolled at Berkeley I was insecure and extremely shy,” Ms. Brown said. “With the encouragement of Professor Small, I gained confidence at Berkeley College and in my personal life. Even after I had completed her course, she stayed in touch with me and encouraged me to do well in my other classes.”
Now, on track to graduate in the Fall of 2013, the Dean’s List student is already researching graduate degree programs.
“My goal is to work in management in a nursing home environment where I can make a difference in the quality of life for the residents,” Ms. Brown said.
She discovered her passion for working with seniors while participating in an Academic Service Learning (ASL) course titled “Issues in Contemporary Health.” Students in this course teamed up with the Jewish Home Lifecare’s Manhattan nursing home to teach residents how to use iPads as a way to enhance their lives. In addition, the students developed a new library system that provides residents, staff and visitors with easy access to healthcare information.
The confidence that Ms. Brown gained at Berkeley College spilled over into her personal life.
During the 2012 Presidential Election she campaigned in support of Barack Obama. Her success as a campaigner earned her an invitation to volunteer in Washington, D.C. during the Presidential Inauguration. While there, she worked alongside Chelsea Clinton and other volunteers who were CEOs and members of medical professions nationwide.
“That gave me an opportunity to network and I got some great business cards from influential people who told me that I should call them when I graduate from college,” Ms. Brown said. “I know that I would never have had the confidence to volunteer at the Presidential Inauguration if it wasn’t for Berkeley College.”
Like the other volunteers that weekend, Ms. Brown had a ticket to attend the Inaugural Ball. However, while attendees were dressing in their finery she was boarding a bus back to New York City.
“I had an exam in my healthcare class the next day and I couldn’t miss that,” Ms. Brown said. “As far as I concerned, I had served my president well. Now, it was time to get back to my life and my education.”