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My Story

Growing Up

I was the youngest of two daughters born and raised by working class parents in St. Cloud, MN. My father a navy veteran, suffered from mental illness- lacking resources to heal like so many other veterans. My mother, a drafts-woman, struggled as the bread-winner in a predominantly male industry. My adolescence was anything but easy, having moved 13 times by my 15th birthday. 

 

Life has its way of confronting us with the unexpected, and I was no exception to the rule in becoming a mother at the age of seventeen. Shortly after the birth of my daughter, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Prior to her passing she asked I promise that no matter what challenge stood before me, I would graduate college.   In 2008, I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the College of St. Scholastica- the commencement ceremony was held on Mother’s Day. 

Where I am today

My role as a public servant began 11 years ago with Minnesota Department of Transportation in the Office of Civil Rights. I am currently the small business contracting supervisor, responsible for administering the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program, Targeted Group Business Program and Veteran-owned Business Program. I earned my masters degree in public administration in 2018 from metropolitan state university. 

 

    Image by Johann Siemens

    My Story

    I was the youngest of two daughters born and raised by working class parents in St. Cloud. My father, a Navy veteran and my mother, a drafts-woman. My adolescence was anything but easy, moving 13 times by my 15th birthday, resulting from the stigma associated with, and lack of resources available for veterans struggling with mental illness like my father. As I entered middle school my father was rendered permanently disabled, my mother now the primary breadwinner was diagnosed with cancer a short time later. 

    Life has its way of confronting us with the unexpected, of which my life is no exception to the rule, becoming a mother at the age of seventeen. Prior to my mother's passing I promised her I would graduate college and I was determined to do everything in my power to keep my word. I worked full-time changing oil to pay the bills, while attending college part-time. By the age of 24, I was a single mother of 3, after making the decision to become a survivor of domestic abuse. I graduated college in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the College of St. Scholastica, the commencement ceremony was held on Mother's day - officially fulfilling the promise I made my mother. 

    Many of you may recognize me in advocating against bullying in educational settings. One year ago, my family became victims of a hate crime, when a community member stole a truck and drove it into our home. I refused to let the tragedy define our family, and recognize the experience to be part of the journey. 

     

    My Motivation 

    Following in the footsteps of my great grandmother, Grace McDowall, a woman far before her time. Serving on the St. Cloud City Council, as a member and as president.  She went on to lead McDowall Company, after the death of my great-grandfather. Her determination for success in a predominantly male- run industry, laid the foundation for my mother, Theresa Umerski. She went on to become the first female student in industrial tech at Tech Highschool and the first female to graduate the drafting program at St. Cloud Community and Technical College.  

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    Where I am today 

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    I am employed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation in the Office of Civil Rights where I am the Small Business Contracting Supervisor. I am union member of Middle Management Association. My role as a public servant is supported in education; I obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the College of St. Scholastica and a Master of Public Administration from Metropolitan State University. 

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