One Alum’s Journey to Success
Paula Quander was a student at Delaware State when it was still called “Delaware State College.” Some many things have changed in her life since then. She attributes a lot of her life successes to her time at college. While Paula’s path was not always clear, she maintained a steady mindset with her faith and trust in her life and career’s process.
Q: Can we get to know the woman behind the face?
I am Paula Quander, a former Delaware State student but a current alum. I am currently retired, but I majored in sociology when I was in college.
Q: Where were born and what was your upbringing like?
A: I was born in Washington DC with a very happy upbringing with my mom, dad, and big brother. We went everywhere together and always went on trips. My parents worked hard for us and they both worked two jobs.
Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life that has impacted the woman you are today?
A: My mom, I guess, because she was a very strong person. I was raised with good morals and she was a very good person. She taught me not to hate anybody and to give respect to everyone.
Q: What about your family?
A: We had a good nuclear family— mom, dad, brother and myself. We got more of what we needed than what we wanted, but still got some things we wanted. They didn’t spoil us too much. We had a good traditional Catholic background.
Q: Can you tell me about your education history and what your life goals or ambitions were when you were a student in College?
A: I went to catholic school ever since I started and then went to a Catholic high school. Then I went to Delaware State and started out as P.E. major, but I didn’t like the chemistry, so I picked up Sociology as a major and took a lot of psychology courses. I pledged under Delta while I was there and I was on the women’s basketball team. I really wanted to be a social worker, but after I graduated, I didn’t have the money to get my masters, so I first worked for the IRS, then joined the FBI after a little while.
Q: What was your prior to your retirement?
A: I had a lot of jobs within the FBI. I was a clerk, I did filing, and then I became a supervisor. Later I started in telecommunications where I ran the phone system for the entire office and the phones for most of the off-sites in DC and Virginia. I retired as a Grade 11 Step 9 and for my last 10 years I was an EAP counselor. I even got my black belt while I was working there.
Q: What was the most memorable point or moment in that position?
A: When I started to run the phone system virtually by myself without supervision. It felt like I was really trusted and I set up the 1-800 command posts by myself for all the phones. I remember when 9/11 happened and I was sick but I had to come in anyways and set up the posts for all of the phones.
Q: Is this where you thought you’d be 5 or so years ago?
A: I guess, yeah. I don’t think that far ahead. No one knows what happens in their lives, so I try not to really think in the future and take it day by day. I didn’t plan on raising my granddaughter, but I did and I could t imagine life without her. I even worked as a substitute teacher at her school after I retired.
Q: What informed your decision on doing what you’re doing now?
A: I’m retired now, so I’m just living my life day by day and enjoying watching my sons and granddaughter grow up and live their lives.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Outside of moving sometime this summer, I don’t have any plans right now. I just want to live comfortably and help my kids in their endeavors at this point.
Q: What kind of advice would you offer a student, who is undecided on their career path?
A: Just think about what you really like to do, so that you’ll be able to enjoy your job. Pick a career that you’ll excel in and that you’ll enjoy doing. I didn’t plan to work for the FBI, but when I started, I was surprised at how much it related back to my major. Choose something you can relate to, and be happy.
Q: How would you describe the state of higher education in America today?
A: They’re kind of piss poor right now. A lot of them don’t offer kids of color the opportunity to excel. Kids of color have a limited shot at getting scholarships, which makes it harder for really smart kids with low income to get the education they deserve. There’s a lot of people who pay to get into their schools, and they seem to be rewarded for not doing anything. First of all, they need to get rid of that SAT test. It is not a testament to how smart a kid actually is.
Q: Have you ever travelled outside of the United States?
Q: What do you think the future holds for America?
A: Well, I hope there’s enough people out there, collectively, where we can maintain our democracy and that the government can start working for each other instead of against each other. But right now, it’s honestly a question mark for me. We need to make things better for the next generation and sometimes we step in our own feet.
Q: Are you interested in politics? If no, why not? What is your take on the state of politics and the future of the American democracy?
A: I’m very interested in politics because I like to know what’s happening around me. There’s not much to watch or hear now, because all they do is argue and it can be so depressing. The parties, Independent, Democratic, and Republican, need to work together to maintain democracy, because it’s already at risk.
Q: How are you responding to the outbreak of the Convid-19 virus?
A: I’m just trying to stay safe and do what I’m supposed to do— get all my shots, wearing my mask. There’s no use getting excited about it, it is what it is. I’m going to follow the rules to keep myself and those around me safe.
Q: How did you handle the stay-at-home order?
A: Fine. I stayed at home and it didn’t bother me. There were times where I needed fresh air and to see the same thing, but I stayed at home as much as possible.
Q: What about virtual learning or telecommuting?
A: I think telecommuting is fine depending on what your job is. There are some jobs, like being a nurse, where it’s just better to be in person. Virtual learning isn’t for everyone. Not every parent is equipped to teach their child at home and not every child is self-sufficient enough to learn at home. It really depends on the person.
Q: What keeps you going during these trying times?
A: A lot of prayer and trips to Starbucks. I also read a lot.
Q: How can the government better handle the situation?
A: I know it’s hard, but I think they all need to get in one accord. If there’s a mask mandate, make it that way everywhere, because it gets confusing.
Q: What are your hobbies or extracurricular activities?
A: There’s not a lot I can do physically anymore. But, I just joined a book club and I love it so much. I look forward to our meetings every week, and I just try to stay busy and keep my mind keen.
Q: How would you describe your philosophy of life? That is, how do you see this life and what principles get you grounded and moving forward?
A: Well, I just try to keep everything in perspective and pray. I mean I believe in God, so, that’s really all I can say. I try to keep my priorities straight and take it day by day. I’m not trying to make anyone’s day worse, just make sure that I’m ok and that they people I care about are doing alright.
Let’s end the interview with a memorable quote from you.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” —Maya Angelou
I have been given the amazing privilege to not only interview Ms. Quander, but to be raised by her as well. She is an extremely devoted and caring individual, who does anything in her will power to spread love and light. Paula Quander is an incredible woman and role model that continues to teach the people around her new life lessons every day.
Q: How would you describe yourself to the world? (Complete the sentence: I am….)
A: I am a good person.