Marilyn Bowers '12

Marilyn Bowers

(This story first appeared as a section of a larger story called "From E-town to Influence" by E.A. Harvey in Elizabethtown magazine's spring 2013 issue)

Wherever Marilyn Bowers is working she posts the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred" to remind her of her path and her goal. The poem asks what happens when a dream is put on hold. For Bowers, it became stronger and even more defined and, in May 2012, when she earned her bachelor's degree in corporate communications from Elizabethtown College's School of Continuing and Professional Studies (SCPS), the first step in that dream became a solid reality.

Bowers' drive to succeed was not just a personal accomplishment, she said, but also a promise she made to herself to inspire others to be involved in higher education and to be a positive example for her son and daughter. With her intense schedule—classes and 40-hour weeks at Performance Construction Services in Harrisburg, plus part time as a nail technician at Hershey Spa—there wasn't a lot of time for her children, but Bowers made it a point to share her experiences with them. Homework time was something they did together. She wanted them to see that it took hard work to attain goals but goals could be realized.

"Let your education be an example to your children," Bowers said. "Make a spot for them to be included. And never give up. When you are tired, think of it as a good inspiration."

"Let your education be an example to your children..."

Starting her adult degree program with just six credits from York Technical Institute, the educational journey was long but, as Bowers completed each of her classes, she turned up the volume on the song "I Will Survive" on a CD she kept close at hand. Her graduation was the culmination of a journey that spanned four breathless years.

"Some days," she admitted, "I shed a tear."

This past March, Bowers was honored by the Greater Harrisburg YWCA as a "Woman of Excellence" for her contribution to the workplace and community, and she also was a featured guest on WITF Smart Talk about her honor.

"The program served a huge need," Bowers said of the SCPS. "I knew I couldn't move forward in my career without higher education. … If not for E-town's commitment to adult learners I would not have had the opportunity to continue my education nor could I inspire others to continue."

She moves others by serving on the Elizabethtown College Academic Management Board and working as a peer trainer with the SCPS. After barely catching her breath, Bowers is running headlong into the next step of her goal—she is a graduate student at the Penn State Master's in Education-Training and Development program.