It all started with a dream.
Eula Saxon Dean began her life from humble enough beginnings as the daughter of sharecropper parents in Georgia, waiting for the chance at living life to its fullest potential.
Now, Dean functions as the executive dean at the Verde Campus of Yavapai College in Clarkdale.
Saturday, Dean will speak at the United Negro College Fund telethon broadcast from Phoenix’s Channel 3 station. This broadcast features participation from many prominent people, corporations and agencies that help fund this organization. The UNCF helps students across the country by providing scholarships, grants for educational programs and training and fellowship for teachers.
Dean attended Barber-Scotia College in Concord, N.C., thanks to the UNCF.
"I was delighted," said Dean about the telethon opportunity. She explained that she co-chaired this function last year for the fundraising portion – and a 30-second spot on television. This year, Dean will conduct interviews and listen to personal accounts of how the UNCF assisted with those educational needs.
After graduating from Barber-Scotia College, Dean went directly to Cornell University, where she earned a master’s degree. She earned a juris doctorate from the University of Northern California in Sacramento in 1987.
Dean relocated to Arizona because her husband received a promotion as CEO with the Greater Phoenix Urban League.
"We started our marriage here in 1972 in Arizona," she said.
Currently Dean also serves as the chair of Arizona’s UNCF, working with regional representatives in coordinating local activities.
In addition to Dean’s chair duties, her immediate goal as dean of the college is to provide support for the building of the campus’ skill center and for the additional educational facility currently in the works.
"I will be actively involved in making sure there are adequate programs for the skill center in the long term and continue to carry the message that community college is an open door for all the individuals in our community," said Dean.
"I’m hoping people will see and begin to utilize college as a resource for the entire family."
Dean understands this resource. She’s spent 28 years in higher education, first as a home economist at the University of Arizona. In that capacity, Dean helped families improve their lifestyle with meal planning, cooking and parenting skills. She became a college administrator and says of that experience, "It’s been an absolute joy."
Dean’s most prized caveat, however, may be her success as a wife and parent and the ability to choose her destiny.
"I won’t tell you my life has been an easy life," she said.
"One of the things I’ve found is that setting goals and being in a constant re-training mode is the best thing an individual can do."
Dean also understands the importance of setting aside one’s goals, if only for a little while, to direct her energies toward raising her daughter. In delaying some of her career goals, she said, "That’s OK. In the long run, if I raised the very best daughter that I could raise, and have her in a position where she could contribute to society, then I would have given the very best gift that I could give back to my community."
The greatest obstacle Dean faced during those sometimes trying years was, "coping with my own patience."
Dean acknowledges that things usually happen in their own time.
Always with an eye toward the future, Dean believes that the status of women and minorities will improve. Yet, she believes the current status remains positive.
"We have certainly seen an increase in opportunities in education and training and I think that for many women and minorities, the only thing that held us back was opportunity."
Dean doesn’t believe women rank equally with men in terms of equity, but she does hold the outlook that men and women should receive their pay based on performance, achievement and competency.
"If we (men and women) work within those boundaries, if women and men work in the same job with the same tasks, pay them equally."
Dean also believes in serving the community. In addition to staying active in her church, she provides her services as a keynote speaker to many organizations and conferences – and many don’t offer gratuities.
"I’m very supportive of the community and youth issues," Dean said.
"I’m very concerned about how we can improve access for our young people to stay in school and increase their interests. When I look at the amount of money we pay trying to correct delinquency … it seems to me that a reasonable path might be to look as early as possible during pre-natal stages to make sure women have adequate care so they can bring the healthiest, most intelligent babies into the world," said Dean.
Dean believes the greatest shortcoming in our community is to encourage people to live to their potential. Every individual decides who they are and who they want to be.
"I realize that every moment and second of time that I didn’t achieve something, there was a learning opportunity in it. Taking advantage of that learning opportunity and building on it, and just becoming a good person inside, that meant so much more to me."