Marilyn L. Bowers
When Marilyn L. Bowers, diversity liaison for Quandel Construction, Inc., was 10 years old, her parents divorced, leaving her mother to face some challenging times as a single parent.
“Like most families with one parent, I was a witness early on to the fact that it takes hard work, perseverance, determination, and faith in God, along with support from family, to make it in life,” she said.
And now, looking back, she can see it was those lessons that gave her such a strong foundation and helped her to write her own success story.
“My mother worked what we thought were ‘odd jobs,’ but now I categorize her efforts as an entrepreneur,” Bowers said. “She cleaned office buildings on weekends and evenings … and at the same time worked in our home as a state-approved daycare provider … Even when it was not popular to own your own business, my mother managed to provide for our necessities by doing so.”
Bowers graduated from Harrisburg High School, William Penn Vocational Technical School, majoring in business, in 1988.
“I learned administrative skills well enough to earn a clerk-typist internship during my senior year with the Department of Agriculture,” she recalls. “So I attended school half days, worked co-op afternoons, and evenings and weekends I worked as a cashier in a grocery store. My brothers and I worked to help our mother and to also provide for the extras we wanted.”
Bowers was grateful to learn the value in hard work early, which “proved vital when I found myself in a similar position as a divorced single parent, raising my son and daughter,” she said. “My children were small and my responsibilities were big and seemed endless. I needed to be available for my children but also make a living. With the cost of daycare, I knew the one way to accomplish that was to start my own business.”
Bowers enrolled in beauty school, earning a nail-technician license, and began working in a salon. In 1996, she successfully opened her own salon, with her mother eventually joining the business.
“Although the salon business was good and sustained a living for me and my family … I still wanted to do more.”
She began searching for other opportunities.
“One of my clients told me about a possible position at the Harrisburg Housing Authority (HHA) in procurement and modernization. She recommended me … and I began working there full time but kept my salon doors open working part time evenings and weekends,” Bowers said.
The hours were long, but Bowers had a goal, a career change, in mind. Working at the HHA proved to be a great decision because it was there she received her introduction to the construction industry.
However, Bowers realized that if she wanted to advance her career, she needed a college education. With the support of her children, she enrolled at Elizabethtown College as a nontraditional student in February of 2008 with a major in corporate communications.
“I attended classes evenings and weekends, three semesters a year, and completed my bachelor’s degree and graduated on May 19, 2012, five days before my son graduated high school.”
During the process of earning her degree, Bowers learned something about herself. She wanted to acquire a professional position with more community interaction. Never say never.