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Brenda Safford

Director/Case Manager, Women Economic Empowerment | YWCA of Central Massachusetts

A seasoned secretary, Brenda Safford excelled at her job until rheumatoid arthritis derailed her work life. In some ways, the illness proved to be a blessing in disguise. A counselor who was helping her manage the disease encouraged her to return to school, specifically Quinsigamond Community College.

As a non-traditional student, Brenda felt she’d be out of place, but decided to take a chance. "I was embraced and made to feel welcome," she said, although she still worried about the coursework. "I hadn’t done math since high school." Faculty quickly dispelled her fears and helped cultivate a positive attitude. "They whet my appetite for learning."

She satisfied that hunger by earning an associate degree in human services from QCC in 1998, along with Student of the Year Award.

In 2003, QCC asked her to become its admissions and financial aid coordinator. Two years later another alma mater called. "Assumption College hired me to develop its multi-cultural office. I worked there until 2011." In the meantime, she kept in contact with YWCA colleagues. "I learned that they needed someone to rebuild the young parent program," Brenda said. In short order, she became case manager and director of the Women Economic Empowerment program.

Brenda never forgot the reception she received at QCC. In fact, she now teaches cultural competence in QCC’s human services program as an adjunct faculty. In the greater community, Brenda serves on the YWCA, Youth Center and Girls CHOICE Advisory Boards as well as the City of Worcester Advisory Board for Affirmative Action and the Greater Worcester Community Foundation Scholar-ship Committee.

All of these accomplishments reflect upon Brenda’s decision to attend QCC. "It was a priceless experience. They helped me believe in myself and gave me confidence."