"You take my life, when you take the means whereby I live."- William Shakespeare
Growing up in the ghettos of East Saint Louis, Illinois, a city that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development described as "the most distressed small city in America" and where 75 percent of residents are on some form of welfare, I quickly learned about the value of a stable job and the opportunity that employment and education creates for an entire family.
Additionally, Sigmund Freud once said that love and work were the most important things in a person's life. I agree. After spending the last eight years of my life working as an Human Resources Manager with a variety of companies, including GE, Honeywell, and United Technology, I joined the Master's of Professional Studies Program at the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University. I was confident that the program would provide me with both a superior educational foundation and the credibility of the extraordinary Cornell University experience to continue to pursue my life's work.
As a graduate student, I have not only taken challenging courses in Negotiations and Managing and Resolving Conflict at the Scheinman Institute, but I have also worked with my advisor, Professor David Lipsky, to develop a number of outside experiences that have helped me build and grow a career as a Professional Neutral.
For example, following Professor Lipsky's guidance, I received training from multiple Community Dispute Resolution Centers and became a Community Mediator for the New York State Court Annex System in the cities of Ithaca, Albany, and Binghamton.
Additionally, I had an opportunity as a student to attend a week long program for working professionals called the "Employment Law Mediator Training Program," offered through the Cornell Extension Division. The CU Extension training program helped me to make a transition from Community Mediation to Employment Mediation. Accordingly, I have recently started training to become a "Pro Bono Mediator" for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in New York City.
Finally, I recently began working on a research project exploring the professional challenges that are unique to minority Professional Neutrals, which I hope will result in a future publication.
In sum, the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution has opened up and continues to promise a world of new career opportunities for me. The Institute has not only provided me with classroom theory, but has also facilitated my career development through practical experiences and support.
- Lonnie Brewer