Mae: Linda and I met in the last century as freshmen at Stanford University. We did not know each other, but we were both young African American women from Chicago, outgoing, and we loved physical activities.
Linda: Mae breaks the stereotypical view that most people have of extremely smart women. Yes, she is brilliant and I would put her intellect up against any woman or man; but she is also fun, funny, down to earth, compassionate, artistic, and beautiful, inside and out. She is most definitely not a nerd.
Mae: We both loved dancing. Dance has been very important in our friendship and has served to strengthen it over the years. I admire Linda for her incredible dance skill, interpretation, and energy. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they move, and if dance is your avocation, even more of your character and aspirations are revealed.
Linda: My favorite college memories are of the two of us choreographing dance performances. How many astronauts do you know who can tear it up on the dance floor and then break down exactly what it would take to create artificial limbs for someone who would like to dance, but can’t because they have no legs? I am in awe of her.
Mae: I respect Linda because she had the nerve to pursue professional dance after graduating from college with honors in Italian and psychology. I wanted to go to New York to pursue a career as a professional dancer, but after much discussion with my mother, I went to medical school instead. Dance is something Linda and I continue to share—if no one else can appreciate why movement brings such a smile and a connection—all we have to do is look at each other. At Linda’s wedding we danced—hard enough to sweat— into the night.
Linda: Mae is one of the most gifted speakers I have ever heard. She has the ability to take you where she wants you to go, yet all the while you don’t realize you’re being led there. Once you get there, you have that “Aha!” moment. She always does it with humor.
Mae: Linda’s outlook on life is confident, enthusiastic, strong-willed, and energetic. She goes for what she wants. And if it does or does not work out, she is ready for the next episode. While some of my friends might have been skeptical about my career path, Linda was always supportive. Talking to her about going to Africa as a doctor or becoming an astronaut or leaving NASA did not faze her.
Linda: Our friendship has strengthened through the years because we accept each other as we are and continue to support each other no matter what. There were times when we didn’t see each other for quite a while as our lives took us in different directions. But each time we come back together, we pick up where we left off. When I got my TV job in Houston while Mae was training at the Johnson Space Center, it was a dream come true. It was meant to be for me, her best friend, to cover her historic launch. It was extremely emotional for me—I cried during liftoff—and one of the highlights of my career.
Mae: Linda is a bit sappy, and it’s wonderful. Linda is not constrained about displaying warm fuzzy emotions. It is a quality that I have come to appreciate more and more as I have gotten older and realized how rare and beneficial genuine positive emotions are in this world. From her undying love for “Teddy,” her childhood teddy bear she brought to college with her, to her teary eyed news coverage of my space shuttle launch, to her compassionate delivery of scholarships through her charity for students who would normally not get to go to college, Linda makes us all take a deep breath and smile.
Linda: I have so much respect for what Mae has accomplished and continues to accomplish professionally, but I have just as much admiration for the kind of person she is. She is as real as they come. Our friendship has endured because I know I can be my true self with her, warts and all, and that she won’t judge me. She’ll just be there, and that’s a true friend.
Dr. Mae Jemison blasted into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992, becoming the first African American woman in space. Today, the Jemison Group focuses on the integration of science and technology into everyday lives. Linda Lorelle is an Emmy Award-winning anchor in Houston whose reports have not only touched lives but saved them. The Linda Lorelle Scholarship Fund provides major college scholarships to Houston-area students.
Perseverance Personified: The Story of Cindi Broaddus
There are few stories as profound as that of Cindi Broaddus. She is a woman who had already endured a series of life’s most challenging situations: the tragic loss of her parents within a short span, the unraveling of her marriage, and the formidable task of raising three daughters single-handedly. But these trials, as it turns out, were mere preparation for an even more harrowing incident that would occur on the night of June 5, 2001.
A Night of Unexpected Terror
Cindi Broaddus’s life took an unforeseen and horrific turn as she journeyed from Newcastle, Oklahoma, to San Diego. Amidst the quietude of the night, as she was seated in the passenger seat of a vehicle, Broaddus found herself suddenly drenched in lethal sulfuric acid.
The acid, flung from a bridge by an unknown assailant, pierced the car’s windshield and rained down upon her. Miraculously, her choice of footwear that day – sneakers over sandals – offered some protection, enough to let doctors administer pain-relieving morphine shots despite the searing acid burns.
Emerging from Adversity: The Survivor’s Choice
Broaddus’s survival required numerous surgeries and reconstructive procedures. During her recovery, she contemplated the future and the impact of her experience on her three grown daughters.
She found herself at a crossroads with two options: “Either I am going to be a survivor who feels sorry for myself, or I am going to go out and try to make the world a better place,” she recalls.
Surprisingly, she also identified personal growth and discovery amid this life-altering event, notwithstanding the fact that the acid-thrower remained unapprehended. She credits this ordeal for pushing her out of her comfort zone, facilitating self-growth and resilience.
A New Purpose: From Survivor to Influencer
Transitioning from a homebound mother to an advertising salesperson for a local cable station, Broaddus was already well-versed in adapting to life’s curveballs.
However, her near-death experience propelled her onto an entirely new path. She penned down her experiences and lessons in a book titled “A Random Act,” which continues to inspire countless readers. Moreover, she entered the public speaking circuit, amplifying her influence and reach.
Support and Visibility: The Role of Dr. Phil McGraw
In her journey, Broaddus was supported by her brother-in-law, Dr. Phil McGraw. He featured her inspiring story on his popular television show in 2002 and 2005, granting her increased visibility and helping to spread her powerful message of resilience and forgiveness far and wide.
Political Activism and the Cindi Broaddus Act
Alongside her writing and public speaking, Broaddus also ventured into political activism. Teaming up with a state senator in Oklahoma, she championed a law that would forever carry her name: the Cindi Broaddus Act. This legislation turned the act of throwing any object from a bridge or overpass into a felony, aiming to prevent incidents like the one she endured.
Resilience and Forgiveness: The Ultimate Victory
Years and countless skin grafts after that nightmarish evening, Broaddus refuses to dwell on her past or harbor bitterness towards the person who committed the heinous act. Her triumphant spirit emerges from her refusal to be consumed with hatred.
“Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves,” asserts Broaddus, demonstrating an exceptional level of optimism. Her perspective is a testament to her strong character and an inspiration to all.
Cindi Broaddus: A Living Lesson of Positivity and Strength
“Being a victim gets you nowhere,” says Broaddus. Her life mantra, “Make every day count. We are all here on the earth for some reason,” sums up her approach to life.
Cindi Broaddus stands as a beacon of resilience, a symbol of indomitable spirit, and an epitome of positivity. Her extraordinary journey, filled with adversity and triumph, serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit.
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A Champion’s Muse: Linda Armstrong’s Tale of Resilience
Despite weathering several abusive relationships and the hardship of being a single mother, Linda Armstrong always encouraged her son to pursue his athletic goals.
And while raising her boy, she displayed the toughness and determination to forge ahead through life’s unexpected obstacles that would one day prepare her son Lance to battle cancer and become a seven-time champion of the world’s most prestigious cycling event, the Tour de France.
Breaking Barriers: Linda Armstrong’s Fight for a Better Life
Her own fight against an uphill battle in life while raising a future athletic superstar is the subject of her book, No Mountain High Enough – Raising Lance, Raising Me. “I always had a hope and dream that I could rise above it,” she says about the troubles in her life.
Linda: An Unyielding Force
Armstrong, 52, got her GED in 1970, had the courage to walk away from a marriage rife with mental abuse and infidelity, and earned a real estate license in 1990. Today, after 15 years as a global account manager with a technology giant, she is involved in fundraising, advocating for children, and addressing issues that include teenage pregnancy and domestic abuse. She also works as an unofficial spokesperson for the Livestrong Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars to fight cancer.
Linda’s Early Life: The Origin of Grit and Determination
Raised in Dallas as the oldest of three children and the daughter of an alcoholic father, Armstrong took on babysitting jobs at age ten. Her escape was watching the Donna Reed Show, the embodiment of the perfect family she hoped one day to have. Yet in high school, she dated the captain of the football team and got pregnant. Her mother didn’t approve and forced her to move out.
No Mountain High Enough for Linda
The romance turned abusive, forcing her to drop out of school and take on clerical and receptionist work to support little Lance. “I didn’t have a soft place to land because I had no skills,” she says. “But I’m like a seed. Where you plant me, I will blossom.”
Raising Lance: Linda Armstrong’s Lifelong Commitment
When Lance was three, she got married and began a decade of mental abuse that she eventually brought to an end because it was affecting more than just her life. “I believe in marriage and that people should be together,’’ she says. “I kept thinking he would change. I didn’t want to fail, and I always had a hope and dream that I could rise above it. But this was affecting Lance.”
As a mother, Armstrong has always been at the top of her game. Even with the backdrop of a difficult childhood, she pushed Lance to set goals and to pursue his dreams. “Follow your heart,” she told him, adding, “I’ll do the rest.’’ She’s always believed that part of parenting is to “find the one thing that children are passionate about, and support it.”
Learning to Let Go: A New Chapter for Linda Armstrong
When Lance moved out at 18, she felt like her right arm had been cut off. Yet ever the optimist, Armstrong recalls thinking, “You’ve got to love them and let them go.”
Having undergone therapy to help heal the psychological scars of her earlier relationships, she married Ed Kelly, a retired IBM executive, in 2002. They enjoy a healthy, loving relationship outside of Dallas.
This petite and charming dynamo is now able to talk about her challenging life experiences, which once made her feel alone and ashamed. “I am at peace knowing that I can help other people.” As for those ubiquitous yellow Livestrong wristbands, Armstrong wears two of them “because I’m the mom!”
Armstrong’s will to overcome hardship – to find “the diamond in the dumpster, the blessing in every bummer” – is transferable to your own career trials. Use her shining example to win yourself a yellow jersey in the workplace.
The Linda Armstrong Formula
A good attitude and optimistic outlook are the first steps in your journey to success. Follow that up with solid, realistic goals that’ll get you to the finish line.
Counseling and education were two key elements that helped Armstrong pull ahead of the pack. You can help yourself too – by seeking help for your challenges, taking a course, or sharpening your existing skills.
Armstrong shares her story to help others in trying circumstances to overcome the odds. Reach out to your clients, co-workers, and friends in need. You’ll not only feel good about yourself, but you’ll build a reservoir of goodwill.
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Whoever said landing a new job at sixtysomething is impossible hasn’t met Linda Hall.
At 63, this Salt Lake City computer programmer knew she didn’t fit the profile of a traditional techie. The industry is male-centric and youth-dominated, both of which worked against her during her nine years at a global IT giant. She was surrounded by swarms of fresh college grads and twentysomethings with sharp skills and the ability to learn at lightning speed.
Yet even with what was sometimes a generation difference between her and her colleagues and oftentimes her bosses, Hall was good at her job, and with a warm and welcoming personality, she was well-liked by peers. As an extremely dedicated employee, she was frequently called on to work into the wee hours of the night to complete critical tasks.
None of that mattered when, thirty years into her career, Hall received the worst possible news for a mature worker in the technology sector: She was being laid off.
With just a three-month cushion of severance pay and benefits, Hall was justifiably nervous about securing a new job. Being single, a steady salary was a financial necessity, and being career minded, a meaningful and challenging job was emotionally critical. Job searching is always difficult but with a line of young, fresh geniuses in front of her at every interview, there were weeks of despair and discouragement where Hall worried that her career days may have been behind her.
She used her anxiety to establish a plan—thanks in part, she says, to the advice in Women For Hire books and on our website. She stepped up her networking immediately, asking everyone for both job leads and candid feedback on strengthening her resumé. She enrolled in a weekly job search workshop offered by her church where she developed a polished elevator pitch, rehearsed interview questions, and connected with head hunters.
All of those efforts—along with the belief that her maturity and years of experience were assets and not impediments—finally paid off. Four months after the layoff that turned her world upside down, Hall received an offer from one of the largest banks in the city as a programmer with regular nine to five hours and a $15,000 increase over her previous position.
Today Hall says she love the new challenges she’s facing and the relationships she is building. And perhaps best of all, she cherishes her unique position and perspective as a mature woman in a young person’s world of work.
Pamela Nicholson: A Journey from the Bottom to the Top
You hear the stories all the time, from the mail room to the board room. They started as the intern and now they run the company. Enter Pamela Nicholson. She’s living proof that the right mix of determination, perseverance, and loyalty can be leveraged for major success within an organization.
Nicholson’s Humble Beginnings and Steady Ascension
Her title stands alone, but her humble beginnings tell the whole story. Starting at Enterprise Rent-A-Car as a Management Trainee shortly after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1981, Nicholson spent the next 25 years steadily climbing the corporate ladder. Today, she oversees the operations of the whole company as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.
Driving Growth at Enterprise Rent-A-Car
As she’s grown professionally, the company has too. Enterprise was a regional rental car company with only 10,000 vehicles in service. As one of the company’s top performers throughout her career, Nicholson has been instrumental in helping Enterprise achieve its tremendous success and growth. Today it is the largest rental car company in North America with more than 850,000 vehicles, Enterprise Fleet Services, Car Sales, and Rent-A-Truck Divisions.
Breaking Barriers as a Female Leader in the Automotive Industry
Only the third COO in Enterprise’s history, a company now celebrating its 50th year, Nicholson stands out as a woman in a very male-dominated industry, the automotive business. Because she started her career at the rental counter, and has held nearly every position in between—from Assistant Branch Manager to Branch Manager to Area Manager, Regional VP, and Corporate VP—she has a very down-to-earth approach with the employees she interacts with and appreciates their responsibilities. They, too, value her because she’s been there and done it.
The Power of Mutual Respect at Enterprise Rent-A-Car
Nicholson of all people knows that mutual respect is essential. After all, given Enterprise’s long tradition of promoting within, the counter clerk today could be the big boss in the future. This principle, deeply ingrained in Enterprise’s corporate culture, underscores the potential within each individual to climb up the ranks, mirroring Nicholson’s own inspiring journey.
The Nicholson Effect: Driving Enterprise’s Success
Pamela Nicholson’s ascension to the role of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Enterprise Rent-A-Car is nothing short of inspirational. The growth of the company under her leadership is a testament to her strategic acumen and operational excellence. As a woman who has climbed the corporate ladder from the ground up, her story serves as a beacon of motivation for others striving to make their mark in the business world.