Excelsior graduate award spotlight: Brianna Shearer


Business Advisor, Meghan Rosebeck, talks to Brianna Shearer, winner of the 2017 Jean Smith Award.  The Jean Smith award recognizes the leadership and vision of founding trustee Jean M. Smith and is given to a student who demonstrates outstanding academic and professional achievement in the world of business. Raising a family, while holding down a full-time job and supporting her husband who is an active duty member of the Navy, Brianna completed her associate degree in administrative and management studies with a 4.0 GPA.  The many letters of recommendation from colleagues and employers all supported her nomination. Brianna plans to attend the Commencement Ceremony and the Reception and Awards Convocation in July in Albany, New York


Rosebeck: Can you give us some background about yourself, your home life, your family, and your career aspirations?

Shearer: I find myself to be the average working mom. I have been married for nine years this July to my amazing husband. Together, we have two wonderfully crazy boys, ages 4 and 9 and two even crazier dogs (both pictured above). Our spring and fall days are spent at the little league baseball field where my husband and I coach and team mom together. Everything else outside of school and work is time spent doing anything together. We enjoy being with our family and friends being outside, eating together or even just relaxing. I cook, bake, craft and quilt (deemed my old lady hobby) in my spare time and spend my evenings wrapped in a good book. As far as my career is concerned, I have accepted a new position as an Executive Assistant. This role is my dream job and I love it.

Rosebeck: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in completing your course and what was it that helped you to reach your goal with Excelsior?

Shearer: My biggest inspiration for even enrolling into Excelsior was my husband. As he served his time on active duty with the US Navy, I found myself struggling to find work in the administrative field without a degree behind my many years of experience. We decided together that going back to school would help me find work as we moved across the country and would cement me in a good position when we settled back home permanently in Texas. I have always stood behind him and supported his career goals and this was his way of showing me that he was standing behind mine. Once I began taking my courses, I was further fueled by my husband and kids to do everything I could to not just complete my degree, but complete it with honors. I pushed through the stress of working and being in school to prove to my boys that it can be done with a little extra effort.

Rosebeck: How important is it for you to be able to celebrate your success with family and friends during Commencement in July?

Shearer: Oh, this is extremely important for me. Without my family and friends, I doubt that I would have completed my degree with the GPA I was striving towards. Outside of my husband, my mom and dad spent countless hours babysitting so I could go somewhere quiet and study or write papers for my courses. I found friends that offered to help me study and read papers for clarity. My former company executives even allowed me to take care of studying and homework during the work day. I am blessed with the amount of support and encouragement I received during my courses and this moment is more than just my achievements. It’s a time to celebrate with them and thank them for helping me get here.

Rosebeck: You are this year’s winner of the Jean Smith Award, so what does it mean to you to win this award?

Shearer: This was such a humbling moment for me. I can remember a time after I had my first son when I thought I would never go back to school to complete my degree, let alone do so with honors. I have always strived to do my best, work my hardest, and be proud of the results at the end knowing that I tried and succeeded. This award just confirmed that every late study night, research paper stress, and hours spent with my face in a text book was worth it. I proved to myself that I could do this and succeed not just in school but in my career.

Rosebeck: So you’ve completed your administrative and management studies program. What do you plan to do next with your academic or professional career?

Shearer: I am still considering my next steps from here. I have tossed around the idea of returning for my bachelor’s degree a few times, but I have not made a final decision yet. I am studying to take the IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) CAP certification exam in September, which I feel my degree has truly prepared me for. For now, I am concentrating on cementing my career in my new Executive Assistant role. The company has been around for years and is currently in a large growth upswing. The role is everything I have been preparing for over the past 10 years that I have been in this field and I am looking forward to the new experiences and knowledge this will bring.


Remember to book your place for this year’s Commencement ceremony at https://www.excelsior.edu/web/commencement/commencement-2017