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Teresa Brown

Communication Specialist - Purdue Libraries

Teresa Brown

What do you do at Purdue?

I have worked at Purdue for 34 years, plus four years as an undergraduate, all in the Libraries. For the last 20 years, I have produced and edited the Libraries internal newsletter, INSIDE, for the staff and am a member of the Libraries Development and Marketing Team. It's a great job because it gives me the opportunity to meet and know all our staff members and photograph Libraries events such as the Libraries Distinguished Lecture Series, Libraries Scholar Grant Program, Archives and Special Collections' exhibits and open houses, and other events that Libraries participates in and around our community.

Which woman has inspired you most? Why?

I have to honestly say my mom. She graduated from high school at age 16 and at 18 was the secretary to the president of Hart & Cooley Manufacturing Co. in Holland, Mich. While growing up she was ostracized for attending a Catholic school and recalls not being able to ride the city school buses and having to walk on the opposite side of the street because of her religious association. Rather than be bitter or angry, she focused on her studies and was a straight-A student.

Her father was a conductor on the railroad and was forced to retire because of a life-threatening injury. She and her older siblings went to work so they could help support their family of nine. At 17 she was working to help support her older sister through nursing school. Mom really wanted to attend college but financially was unable to but that never stopped her desire for learning through reading.

She married my dad after his service in the Marine Corps and tour of duty in the South Pacific during World War II. Together they raised six children. By choice my mom stayed at home to be there for her children and my dad. It was tough financially for them. She did things like canning vegetables, making our clothes and economizing in any way that she could. She encouraged each of us to read and to practice and live our faith through our actions.

She made no excuses for who we were as a family; she just encouraged us to do our best, be honest, and share our talents and compassion with others. She volunteered at our church and led several endeavors to provide clothing, food, and Christmas presents for less fortunate families in our community. She would spend hours each evening helping us with homework. She taught and expected us to help with the basic chores and upkeep of our home.

From her I learned about life and how to take what we are given, use it, learn from it to better ourselves and to help those around us. She was and continues at age 88 to be my confidant, my mentor, my tutor, my friend and my mom.

What are your goals and experiences with mentoring or encouraging others?

In my job at Purdue I have the opportunity to meet and get to know the majority of my co-workers. I feel that over the years I have established a great rapport with many of them; I have been approached by some of them to provide information, help and guidance when they are unsure of where to go and whom to talk to about a problem or just provide encouragement and to talk about their role at work. It remains my goal to continue to serve on committees and participate in activities that will help me learn about ways I can continue to encourage my co-workers in their roles as members of the Purdue Libraries and to make myself a better co-worker as well. Purdue Libraries has been a great place to work. I've had supportive supervisors, administrators and co-workers, and I am thankful for the many times they helped me work my way through work-related issues as well as some personal issues. I want to be able to serve in that same capacity with others; I want to "Pay it forward." I hope that someday a few of them will say that I was a good co-worker and that they enjoyed working with me. I will continue to participate and volunteer in my church community, something I have been doing since my grade school days.