Barbara Brotzki grew up in Sandusky and met her husband, Paul, in high school. As their family grew to include four children, she put off her college plans, worked in the accounting field and ran a sewing business out of her home.
When her youngest son enrolled in college, Brotzki thought about going back to school. She saw an Owens commercial, went online and applied. Nervous about getting back into the classroom, her intent was to try college for one semester, but her instructors encouraged her to continue.
"My instructors were fantastic and willing to work with me as long as I was willing to work hard," Brotzki said.
She enrolled in business, but realized there were many subjects she was interested in, particularly anthropology and human geography.
Brotzki's interest in other cultures was sparked by her daughter who, at age 16, wanted to travel to Nicaragua on a mission trip. Brotzki accompanied her daughter and said "It proved to be a lifechanging experience for both of us."
She travelled to Nicaragua twice more, and also Honduras, Guatemala and the Philippines on a variety of missions.
As her studies progressed, Brotzki's instructors encouraged her to join the Honors Program. She was unsure if she had the skills to excel, but she persevered. Brotzki said "When the honors medallion was placed around my neck, it was an awesome feeling."
While in the Honors Program, Brotzki created an independent study project that took advantage of her experience as a seamstress. She wrote a sewing manual designed to train Guatemalan villagers in basic sewing techniques and has arranged for the donation of sewing machines. When Brotzki travels to Guatemala later this year, she will take the sewing manual and will demonstrate how to use the machines.
"Owens taught me that I can open any door," says Brotzki.
She is now an Owens Ambassador and serves on the Presidential Search Committee. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree, at the honor level, in international business and anthropology and says her Owens degree is her springboard to a broader world.