The Union Recorder

May 10, 2013

Retiring educator gives back as her way of life

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Hailing from Richland, a small southwest Georgia town, Brenda Brown wasted no time jumping right into the workforce during her teenage years. The Georgia Military College family member since 1985 finally says farewell to her loving school and students as she leaves her community service efforts and legacy behind.

“I worked right out of high school in a family business. Then I moved to Milledgeville in 1984 because my husband was looking for a different career and my two teenage sons needed a good education. We thought GMC would be the best place,” Brown said. “I came to GMC in July 1985 working in the business office, and I realized what I really wanted to do was work with students.”

A year later, Brown transitioned to the commandant of cadets’ office to take charge of student activities.

“When we first started doing community service, it was cadet-driven. We focused on cadets because they are required to complete one community service event for each quarter they are a cadet. I teach students how to do community service and why it’s important to give back to their community. We have developed this program from infancy with just cadets and then faculty and staff started becoming sponsors and it just spread out to local churches and area organizations,” she said. “Nearly 30 years later I don’t regret it at all.”

Under Brown’s guidance and creative mind, GMC has been recognized every year since 1996 for celebrating and sponsoring community events on National Make A Difference Day in October. For the school’s efforts in 1999, GMC was distinguished by USA Today Weekend magazine as one of the two best projects in Georgia and was awarded a $2,000 cash prize that was donated to a local nonprofit.

“GMC was also recognized as the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the extraordinary and exemplary community service contributions of its students, faculty and staff in meeting critical community and national needs. We’ve done thousands and thousands of hours. We were only one of 14 colleges in the state of Georgia to receive this honor.”

Also as the blood drive coordinator, cadets and community members have donated more than 2,000 pints of blood for the past seven years to the Armed Services Blood Program, the official United States military blood program.

“We collected 2,000 pints which we hit last February. Now we’re well into 2,300 pints of blood,” Brown said. “My 25th blood drive was on Tuesday.”

GMC will honor Brown with a saber to commend her service to the school and impending retirement during the annual Mother’s Day Parade at 7 p.m. Friday on Grant Parade.

“What I will miss the most at GMC is the people. I have made a lot of good friends here that I intend to keep as friends. I’ll be back because I won’t be very far away,” she said. “To students I tell them, ‘you have to give back to your community. How else could you survive?’ And if you can do it with a smile on your face it makes it even more enjoyable.”

Brown established the Literary Club at GMC and formerly served eight years as president for the American Cancer Society. She is married to Otto Brown, her husband of 47 years, and they have two sons, Scott and Arlin, and four grandchildren.

Brown’s official last day will be June 28.

“I haven’t really thought much about what I’m going to do after retirement, but I will continue to write a column which runs in The Union-Recorder and my hometown newspaper,” she said. “I’ve worked since I was 16 years old and I don’t know how not to work.”

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