OC graduate on verge of achieving her dream

It's taken 35 years, but Clyde Brown will be graduating from Odessa College Friday evening with a bachelor's degree. It's been a long journey for her taking her through several states and schools. (Ruth Campbell|Odessa American)

Clyde Timpalean Brown has waited 35 years for her college graduation and it’s finally here.

Brown will graduate from Odessa College magna cum laude with an ExxonMobil BAAS in leader and management-entrepreneurship at 6 p.m. Friday at the Sports Center. This will be for the School of Health and Sciences, the Bachelor of Arts in Applied Science, and Continuing Education Medical Assistant, Massage Therapy, and Lineman programs.

The commencement ceremony for graduates of the School of Business and Industry will be at 10 a.m. Dec. 9.

The third ceremony for graduates of the School of Liberal Arts and Education and those receiving their Texas Certificate of High School Equivalency will be at 2 p.m. Dec. 9.

“I can’t believe this is happening. It took me 35 years. I’ve been going in and out of school for 35 years since 1988. Sometimes I quit. Then I come back. I quit, I come back …,” Brown said.

This time she didn’t quit.

“It means so much to me because I didn’t give up,” she said.

Facing her fears is what finally did it for her. Brown has auditory processing disorder, meaning she has a hard time hearing sound differences in words. According to WebMD, if someone says “please raise your hand” someone with auditory processing disorder may hear “please haze your plan.”

As a result of her auditory processing disorder, Brown has trouble reading and writing. She wasn’t diagnosed until she was 35. Her sister, who is dyslexic, told her to get tested.

A mother of three, Brown said she always told her kids to face their fears; meanwhile, she said she wasn’t facing hers.

“I’m a firm believer in living by example, so I decided to go back and face my fear. Once I got over the fear of the English portion, and I faced it, then I was able to move on. Because everything else is not hard for me like I took biology, chemistry. Everything like that is not hard, but when it comes to English and the writing part, I was scared. Scared to fail, that I wouldn’t be able to do it. So I faced it,” Brown said.

At one of the schools she attended, she had accommodations such as having someone take notes for her and having a machine read them back to her. Now with technological advances, she is able to record lessons and go home and listen to it, redo it, and listen to it.

“And then the computer reads to you now. When I had to do homework, highlighted on the computer and press speak and it speaks to me and I still do that,” Brown said.

Brown grew up in Miami, Fla., and her family moved to Hinesville, Ga., when she was in fourth grade. After she graduated from high school, she moved to Vero Beach, Fla.

She first went to Indian River Community College and dropped out in the first semester. She then took continuing education courses and got her certified nursing assistant license, followed by a phlebotomy license. Brown also has instructor licenses in cosmetology and barbering.

Although she didn’t have a diagnosis, Brown said she would talk to her teachers and tell them they had to slow things down a little bit for her.

She told them that if she raised her hand all the time, she wasn’t being disruptive, it was just hard for her to grasp things and her instructors were patient with her.

Brown is now the type of person who when someone says she can’t do something, she’s going to prove she can.

“The negativity was my power to go forward, to get what I needed,” she said.

Brown noted that she is a people person and she tells her children to get to know their teachers, listen to them and show them what kind of person they are.

“I get to know my teachers and I explained to them what’s going on and then they saw how hard I work to explain to him what’s going on maybe like okay, she really wants this,” Brown said.

As a hair stylist, she wanted to learn to take good pictures of her work with her iPhone and build up her clientele. She contacted Steve Goff, former head of the OC photography department. She told him she didn’t want a degree, she just wanted to take better photos.

Beckwith Thompson, Goff’s wife, was Brown’s teacher.

Having earned enough credits to earn an associate degree in photography, she wanted to quit the course. Brown talked to OC President Gregory Williams who told her they had four-year degrees at OC.

She wound up getting her photography degree in May and getting her BAAS degree Friday.

Brown has had a cosmetology school and salon. She didn’t want to have a salon again.

“But once I got into business, then I say you know what? I want to open up my own salon. Not only do I want to open up my own salon, since I got a business degree I kind of know how to run it better than … I did before so I do want to probably, hopefully, open up a salon,” Brown said.

She also teaches students to do nails at AnnGee’s Barber Academy in Midland.

Brown also wants to get her master’s in business from University of Texas Permian Basin.

Kristi Clemmer, director of Student Support Services at OC, said Brown is a joy to know.

“I first met Clyde when she was working on her photography degree. Her positive spirit and humble nature are a breath of fresh air! She has volunteered in both the Wrangler Food Pantry and Atmos Energy Pantry Gardens. I had no doubt that she would achieve her goal of a baccalaureate degree. She gives 100 percent in everything she does. She is a joy to know!” Clemmer said.