Providing opportunities for children has been the focus of Patricia Newman Brasseur’s professional and volunteer life since she graduated from Marygrove in 1973.
Regarding the choices she has made, Pat says, “I believe that a Marygrove education affects one’s life in every way because it affects your value system. We were given the challenge to step outside of ourselves to be involved in and improve the world around us.” Pat continued postgraduate study in social work at Grand Valley State University.
Even before Pat earned her degree in sociology, she was committed to the Girl Scouts as a counselor in Flint, Mich., following the example of her mother. Keeping with this commitment, she chairs the Kalamazoo Girl Scout Council’s Capital Campaign, which has raised more than $9.5 million for their Program and Training Center and camp improvements. “She has made it possible for girls to experience an adventure of a lifetime, where lifelong friendships will develop and memories will be made, all while having fun,” wrote Janet Barker, CEO of the Glowing Embers Council. She has served in many capacities from troop leader to board chair as well as assisting the troop led by her daughter, Jodie Mrak, for the past 13 years.
She was named to the Board of the Battle Creek Community Foundation in 1992. She has chaired their scholarship committee for a dozen years. Her sister, Janet Newman Matsko, ’70 says, “Pat has spent hundreds of hours meticulously reviewing scholarship applications. She often tells me about particular applications and how they have moved her. She notices trends that today’s youth are interested in and the financial situations facing many families in today’s economic climate.”
When the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek marked its 75th anniversary by establishing the Legacy Scholars Program with an $8 million contribution, Pat was tapped to chair it. The program guarantees sixth graders from the Battle Creek and Lakeview school districts two years of tuition at Kellogg Community College if they continuously attend and graduate from the districts’ schools. Her message to potential recipients: “Everyone is born with a certain asset, a certain gift and the challenge is to try to find the gift. You have to have the courage to go after it. Put those two things together; discover the gift and the courage to go after it and no one can stop you. There are no limits.” The Legacy program offers hope to parents as it prepares kids for college seven years before graduation so they can embrace the possibilities a college education has to offer. Every year, hundreds of students will be able to attend college thanks to the Legacy program.
Pat is never content to simply appear on the letterhead of the many boards on which she serves. Her name guarantees her commitment and participation. Since 1999, she has been involved with Starr Commonwealth, a multi-faceted youth-serving agency based in Albion, Mich., and presently serves on the program and finance committees of their board.
A member of the American Association of University Women since 1974, Pat is Vice President of Membership. She has also been a member and officer of the Calhoun County Communities in Schools, Mental Health Profession Associates, the Battle Creek Child Guidance Center and her parish school, St. Joseph’s in Battle Creek. During the 2004 hurricane season, she worked disaster relief in Florida for the American Red Cross.
Pat also manages public relations for McDonald’s Restaurants of Calhoun County owned by her husband of 35 years, Jim Brasseur. She and Jim first met in grade school and are parents of a daughter and son and enjoy their two grandchildren.
She manages to work some fun into her busy schedule by reading, bicycling, sailing or playing Bridge. She has been the caregiver for family members during extended illnesses.