Written by Stephanie Keydel, director of career services
Wendy Brown, Minnesota School of Business- Elk River’s June 2015 Graduate of the Quarter, seemed stunned when her name was revealed as the award recipient. This reaction illustrates exactly what is so special about Wendy. Despite knowing how much her hard work, dedication, and robust community engagement has paid off, she remains humble and hungry to continue helping those in need.
Wendy began her educational career at cosmetology school after high school. Her options were more limited then and her grandmother was willing to pay the beauty school tuition. Soon after, Wendy got married, had two sons, and became a stay-at- home mother. Even though she did not have a paying job, Wendy was far from idle. Her deep-rooted belief that “…you have to give back to receive” pushed Wendy to volunteer. Most notably, she was the Scout Master for her sons’ Boy Scout troop in Minneapolis. After observing the conditions some of the neighborhood youth lived in, Wendy became even more invested in providing a safe place for those children to experience a sense of community and to learn valuable life skills. She is proud to share that she had 14 young men achieve the level, Eagle Scout, under her leadership.
Years of watching what happens when people have limited options began to lead Wendy down a different path. After dealing with some challenging personal obstacles of her own, Wendy made the decision to take charge of her future. She obtained training in firearms and started her own business in May of 2011, Armed with Options. The goal of her business was to help others gain confidence with firearms and especially to help women feel personally in charge and safe in their lives. When asked what motivated her to start her business, Wendy explained, “You have to move outside of your comfort zone to achieve anything”, and that you have to “…have a fire in your belly to be successful.” Wendy also eventually became an NRA Certified Firearms Training Counselor and Instructor.
Wendy’s lifelong investment in her community, along with her beliefs about the power of rehabilitation, made criminal justice a natural choice of program for her when beginning at MSB. She credits her criminal justice instructors with forcing her to realize that there are two sides to each coin when it comes to understanding criminal situations. She said her professional development instructors greatly developed her writing skills, and also helped her understand how to present herself while job searching. Wendy also appreciated the lectures given by her instructors, coupled with the fact that they had local experience in their respective fields.
Wendy believes knowledge is power and she has big plans for the future. She is currently researching internships with both Anoka and Wright counties and then wants to become a probation officer for youth offenders. Wendy acknowledges that many in her field shy away from youth oriented jobs because that means dealing with the families as well. Wendy explained that she gravitates towards this type of work, though, for exactly that reason. She believes rehabilitating youth involves working with the family unit as a whole and she wants to be the person to help facilitate that healing.
We wish Wendy the best of luck in pursuing her goals, and look forward to welcoming her back as a student as she continues on with us to obtain her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice.