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Paul and Doreen

Name: Paul and Doreen
Current State: Minnesota
Friends of Berea College

Tell us about yourself.

Paul: After I earned my MBA, I went to work in brand management, which is a lot of fun. As a brand manager, you’re a mini-CEO, responsible for sales and profits of a particular brand or product.

I’m the first in my family to go to college. My father grew up on a sugarcane plantation in Hawaii. He grew up poor – he didn’t get his first pair of shoes until he was 12, and the best Christmas gift he ever received was a pocket knife, which he could use to make his own toys. My mother grew up in Mexico, and though her family was better off, she also lived through some tough times. Her most memorable Christmas present was a basket of oranges and bananas. They were her two favorite fruits, but my grandparents couldn’t afford to buy them very often.

Doreen: I work as a lobbyist in the health care field. My job is to represent my clients in legislative and regulatory matters and to help shape public policy. I got started in lobbying after I worked for a few years in Washington, D.C., as a legislative assistant to Senator Mike DeWine. It’s a very rewarding career. I meet a lot of very smart, interesting people, and I work on issues that have a big impact on society.

I grew up on a farm in northeastern Ohio. My parents were both teachers and part-time farmers, and they worked incredibly hard to provide for us. It was a little scary, moving from the farm to go to college, and then to Washington, D.C., but I’m glad I did it.

Paul: Outside work, we have pretty broad interests. Doreen studied English literature, and I studied philosophy, so we’re big readers. I get my news from the four newspapers I read every day, plus, of course, The Daily Show. Doreen loves to cook, and I love to eat, which works out very well for me!

Doreen: We also love to travel. When Paul was in business school, we had the chance to live for six months in Paris. Studying abroad is a great experience, and I highly recommend you do it! We traveled all over Europe when we lived in Paris. We’ve also been to Mexico, India, and Turkey. It’s interesting to learn about other cultures, and to see how different – and yet somehow similar – everyone in the world is.

When we’re not traveling, we try to stay active in our community by volunteering. We’ve both worked very hard to get to where we are, but we also know that we’re very blessed. It’s important to us to give back to the community.

Paul: Our big project right now is Dempsey, a Golden Retriever puppy we’re training to be a service dog for a person with a physical disability. We got Dempsey when he was eight weeks old, and he’ll live with us until he’s about two. We’ve already taught him about 80 commands: turning on and off lights, opening doors, picking up objects, finding help. We’ve never had a dog before, so we’re still amazed that we were able to teach him so much!

Dempsey’s now at the stage where we use wheelchairs when we take him on training trips to the mall or the grocery. I’d never realized how many barriers people with disabilities face! He’s taught us a lot about being sensitive to others’ needs.

Doreen: We’re also hoping he will teach us not to be selfish. We’ll really miss him when he “graduates,” gets a job, and moves out to live with his new person. Sometimes we secretly hope he’ll fail, so we can keep him. But we’ve met so many people whose lives have been changed by a service dog. Having a dog that can do things when you aren’t able gives you a great sense of freedom and independence, and we’d be horrible people if we denied that to someone who really needs it. Plus, Dempsey really enjoys working and being with his humans, so we know he’ll be happier and more fulfilled spending time with his human and doing his job.

How did you hear about Berea?

Paul: You know, I honestly don’t remember. It was probably in one of the four newspapers I read every day.  I guess what I remembered was that Berea is a very special place, one that I would like to support after I graduated from business school.

Doreen: I first heard about Berea through an aunt who grew up in Kentucky. She spoke very highly of Berea.

Why do you support the College?

Paul: We believe in the dignity of labor, pride in a job well done, and concern for human dignity and equality.

Doreen: We also like that admission to Berea is not based on what your parents can contribute, but on what you can contribute to the community.

Paul: I agree. The stories I’d heard about Berea students reminded me so much of my own family. We chose to support Berea instead of the colleges we attended, because frankly we think they have too much money. I’d rather have our support go towards expanding opportunities for people with limited economic resources, rather than to a fancy new coffee bar.

Doreen: And the more we researched Berea, the more impressed we became. We hadn’t heard of the Day Law, and how Berea stuck up for equality even when it was difficult, even dangerous, to do so. The Great Commitments really are timeless, profound principles, and not just some marketing slogan.

What message would you give to Berea’s students?

Doreen: You’ve been given a talent. Don’t bury it! Be brave. Use it to make the world a better place.

Paul: I’d encourage you to reflect on the Great Commitments, not just as a mission for the College, but how the values they embody can guide your life. Don’t worry too much about acquiring a particular skill. The most important thing you’ll get out of college is the ability to learn, to live with others, and to lead a meaningful life.

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