The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Division of Student Services

Vera R. Boals

Class year: 1979
Major: Political Science
Company/organization: US Army, Retired
Job title: Transportation/Logistics Staff Officer

I would love to connect with students. In addition or instead of attending the Schmooze, I am available for one:one meetings during the weekend. Drop me an email and we'll arrange a time to meet. I arrive on Thursday.

How did you get where you are? (e.g., education, brief work history, mentors)

Reed College, Thesis Military Justice is to Justice as...?

One year of grad school Texas A&M, grad research assistantship. After trying to live on $400 per month, decided there had to be an easier way to make a living. Went home, looked for work. 14% unemployment in Kentucky, even McDonalds was not hiring. So I went into the Army, thinking that the economy would pick up in 4 or 5 years and I'd have some experience, be more hireable...economy didn't get better until 1990, and by that time I was hooked, loved the life, loved what I was doing. Participated in a number of humanitarian missions, including Hurricane Andrew relief in Florida and Guantanamo Bay Haitian Migrant mission. Retired in 2000, worked for a transit agency for 18 months (Pierce Transit in Tacoma, WA), discovered that the entire agency was full of touchy feely nice people and quit...I can only be so nice when stuff is not going well. (LOL) Went to St Martin's University in Lacey, WA for an MBA, and took a grant funded part time job working on K-12 emergency plans.

Got divorced in 2004, moved to New Hampshire, and was granted disability, so stopped working. Became a licensed foster parent, and so far have had 4 long term teenaged boys go through my home.

Was pretty active in working with Habitat for Humanity when they were building up their ReStore, and after a time, was elected to the Board of Directors for a new non-profit, Community Toolbox, which is dedicated to helping homeowners in need do emergency and safety repairs to their homes, as well as enhancements for the disabled.

I am also becoming active in feral cat rescue in New Hampshire.

What lessons have you learned along the way that you'd like to pass on to current Reed students?

Reed doesn't really teach you things, although it's pretty cool to recognize classical themes in current movies. What it does teach you is how to learn, how to prioritize, and how to think. The seminar method of teaching also provides much needed education in teamwork and being part of a team...most businesses are no longer focused on individual achievements, but are focused on the synergy of group or team-work.

So, having said that, being right isn't actually as important as I thought it was.  Being able to bring a group to consensus is, even if it doesn't produce a perfect solution, for most projects, good enough really is, particularly if everyone involved feels like the project will work

If you are the kind of person who really does work best alone, start your own business, don't go into corporate employment

There's nothing wrong with getting rich while you are doing any of this, but being broke has its charms.

The best thing I learned at Reed was that everyone contributes, and everyone has the right to be heard. At Reed, it used to be that no-one made a unilateral decision.  For good or bad, the way that Presiden Kroger is leading Reed is more reflective of the real world that the way it was when I was a student.  I loved the Reed that was, but knew that it wasn't the Real World.

In what ways you think you can help Reed students?

I am more than happy to talk with anyone about my life experiences, and do have a spare room for Reedies, if someone wants to come out for a visit in the frozen north.  More than happy to host.  Can probably also offer the opportunities for unpaid internship as our non-profit gets more organized.