Donna M. Tyler

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Associate Dean, School of New Resources, The College of New Rochelle • New Rochelle, N.Y.

Donna Maria Torian Tyler returned to school as a divorced mother of two to acquire the education she needed to sustain a career and give her children a better life. When she became secretary to the associate dean at the College of New Rochelle’s School of New Resources in 1980, it seemed that fate, and her boss, had a plan. “My boss treated me more like his assistant than his secretary. He allowed me to learn many aspects of the academic area which, unknown to me at the time, would be beneficial in the years to come,” Tyler says. There were naysayers aplenty, but she drew support, inspiration and motivation from her parents and children. “My father always told me, ‘Don’t ever let anyone keep you from getting a job that you want,’” she says. “Keeping this in mind, ignoring office chatter and being confident in myself helped me to deal with the skeptics who only saw me as a secretary.”

In 1995, Tyler, who by then had a master’s degree in career development and counseling from New Rochelle, was named associate dean of the School of New Resources. She prepares annual budgets and allocations for the school, helps students resolve various issues and handles personnel matters for the dean’s office and all six branch campuses. She got there “by continuously striving to master new challenges and taking advantage of new opportunities afforded me,” she says. She also held fast to the words of Alice Joyce Davidson: “With faith there is no impossible dream.”

Tyler’s loss of her mother and a paternal aunt to acute myelogenous leukemia—the fact that they died exactly one year apart, from the same type of cancer, and were not blood relatives— “really weighed heavily on me,” she says. “Ten years from now, my hope is to be able to assist in the research of this disease in order to find a cure.”

—B.W.H.

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