Brenda Beasley has lead, perhaps, one of the most eventful lives of any woman on the VSU faculty, and also one of the most closely tied with the school itself. Beasley, who is the Coordinator of Orientation and Leadership Programs, will celebrate Women’s History Month, not only as one of the most active and highest-ranking women on the VSU faculty, but as a cancer survivor and a person determined to help students find fulfillment in their own lives and activities.
Beasley’s hometown is Quitman, Ga. She grew up as the youngest of five sisters, and became the first of all the siblings to graduate from college; however, Beasley originally did not plan on even attending college.
“It wasn’t like it was discouraged, it just wasn’t encouraged,” Beasley said, regarding how college was viewed at the time she graduated high school.
She did end up attending, though, and enrolled in the school then known as Valdosta State College.
She described her freshman year as mostly active, adding that she became one of the first VSU ambassadors and a member of Chi Omega, the sorority that was housed in the original Hopper Hall.
When she graduated with the class of 1988, Beasley initially worked for a few other companies, but in 2000, she returned to VSU as a counselor, eventually being promoted to the position she holds today.
“I spent so much time away, and I wanted to have a regular schedule at home and enjoy my family,” Beasley said, describing her decision to work at VSU.
In 2007, Beasley earned her master’s in Educational Leadership, still holding her job and raising her family.
She’s aware of how different the atmosphere is now for women who want to complete their educations than it was in the not-so-distant past.
“The flexibility of various educational outlets has been helpful to women,” Beasley said.
Beasley faced what was perhaps her most difficult test in August 2007 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She discovered she had the illness after being diagnosed with another problem, but sought a second opinion.
“I never missed a day of work,” Beasley said of her time in recovery. “I took all treatments while I was working.”
One of her students, who was a Golden Key International Honour Society president interning with Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, told Kingston about Beasley’s battle with cancer.
Kingston gave the student a photograph, one of three distributed to each representative by former first lady Laura Bush, illuminated in pink, to pass on to Beasley as a symbol of her battle to recover.
Beasley proudly hangs the photograph in her office and has fully recovered from the disease.
She has continued her work with student organizations and also speaks about her experience with breast cancer to various groups.
In her work, Beasley tries to emphasize the value of finding a profession that is truly enjoyable.
“I tell students, if you do what you enjoy, you will be 10 times happier,” Beasley said. “The best thing I’ve done in my career is this job. When I came and worked with students, I felt like it was just my niche.”