Jodee McCallum Vice President of Human Resources and Equity.

"The thing that helped me most in my journey was resiliency," said Jodee McCallum, Vice President of Human Resources and Equity at Normandale and a first-generation college graduate. "At the time it doesn't feel like you are being resilient, it just feels hard."

Jodee grew up lower middle class, her mom a nurse and dad a retail manager. The whole family moved around frequently for work (she went to seven schools in as many years at one point). Jodee describes herself as an overachieving middle child who had dreams of being a lawyer. Jodee knew law school was an expensive dream and she would have to work her way through it. 

She had worked her whole childhood though - from babysitting and her first retail job at age 14, and didn't recall a time not working. Jodee enrolled at Winona State University for a Bachelor of Science in paralegal studies, which would prepare her for working in law upon graduation. While in school, she generally worked two or three jobs at a time, averaging 30 hours a week on top of a full course load. After graduating, she worked as a paralegal and married a childhood friend.   

Eight years later, she enrolled in law school while working full-time and also became a mother of two kids, taking off one semester from school with her second child and 12 weeks for her first. 

Graduating law school was a culmination of years of hard work and mental roadblocks of feeling like she was failing, that she wasn't home with the kids, and that she wouldn't be any good so she was just wasting time. A degree was something no one could take away from her. It offered the relief knowing her family would be okay. The best part was having her parents, husband, and children with her at graduation.

Jodee doesn't remember the moment she decided to be resilient and push past the barriers to getting her law degree, but what matters is she never gave up. She wants you to never give up and know that you can also overcome your barriers.

"Don't think about what you can't do. Think about what are doing and what achieving that goal will mean."