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The ‘Golden Girl’ of ECC

Mary WeaverWhile she did not experience college the traditional way, Mary Weaver’s decision to attend Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls has impacted her life in ways she never thought possible.

Weaver worked for Dodger Industries in Eldora for 30 years before the company closed its doors in 2011 due to foreign trade. While she held many positions within the business office during her time at Dodger, her last position was in credit and collections. Holding that position allowed her to be one of the last employees to be let go, and it also meant she took on new responsibilities during her final days with Dodger. It was during those final days, Weaver realized she still had the ability to learn.

“We had people from Iowa Workforce Development come talk to us,” Weaver said. “Since Dodger was closing due to foreign trade, the employees were eligible to go back to college and further our education through a government program.”

During her collegiate search, Weaver looked at Hawkeye Community College, Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College. Janet Siert, a Business faculty at ECC and dear friend, encouraged Weaver to enroll at Ellsworth to update her computer skills and pursue a combined computer applications/accounting degree.

“I knew I wanted to stay in the business field and I had heard good things about the business program at ECC,” Weaver said. “I loved the campus, it was close to home and I knew I would feel comfortable attending classes.”

“I am so glad I made the decision to attend ECC, all of the instructors were fair, yet understanding of my situation.”

There were three women from Dodger who chose to attend ECC, and later became known as the “Golden Girls.” “We were pretty visible on campus,” Weaver said with a smile. “Being the older ladies on campus, everyone knew who we were and watched us to see how we would do.”

“I applied for work-study positions and ended up tutoring in the HUB the first year; during my second year I worked for the late Greg Hodak,” Weaver said. “Greg and I made a good team because we were complete opposites. He was a motorcycle, wild card kind of guy and he thought I was this little old lady…I guess I showed him some things he didn’t expect.”

During her first semester at ECC, Weaver maintained a 4.0 grade point average. “It made me think, if I can do this, then I can continue to do it. It wasn’t my goal to keep a 4.0 GPA, but to do the best I could. Especially since I was here on tax payer dollars and wanted to be a good steward of that money.”

“Mary was an excellent student,” Siert said. “She reached out to mentor and tutor many of our other Business students.”

In addition to the work-study position, the single mother of two, also had two part-time jobs to help support her family. “She could’ve played ‘victim’ of a company closing, but really took advantage of the situation and made it work for her,” said Catherine Potter, Weaver’s daughter. “My brother and I are very proud of her.”

With graduation approaching, Weaver began applying for jobs locally. “I had an interview that went really well and I just knew I would get an offer,” she said. “When I didn’t get an offer I was really discouraged, but around the same time a job opened in the Business Office at ECC. I didn’t meet all of the qualifications they had listed, but a few of the faculty here encouraged me to apply.”

“I was constantly being asked, ‘What are you going to do after graduation?’” Weaver said. “While I didn’t have the exact answer at the time, I knew God had a plan. A year after I started working at ECC, the other company I had interviewed with closed its doors as well.”

In May of 2013, Weaver graduated Ellsworth with a perfect 4.0 GPA and an Associate of Applied Science degree in Computer Applications in Business, an Associate of Science degree in Accounting and an Accounting Practitioner Diploma.

During her interview, Weaver was told while she didn’t meet all of the desired qualifications, they had observed her work ethic, ability, and desire to learn.

Weaver says she feels blessed to work for Ellsworth Community College, which is operated by Iowa Valley Community College District. As for the “Golden Girl” label, that happily disappeared when she returned to the workforce and became a “New Kid on the Block.”

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