News & Features

Lifelong Learner Follows Dreams In the Pursuit of Excellence

Education for Life section / St. Louis Post Disptach

October 20, 2006


Talking to Tony Burrow is a little like getting a dose of effective medicine that also tastes pretty good. What she has to say helps whoever listens and she delivers her message with such a flair and down-to-earth Truth with a capital "T", that you find yourself nodding within the first minutes of a conversation.

A logistics specialist for the Boeing Co. by day and Fontbonne University OPTIONS student by night, Burrow explained her philosophy for work and life like this:

"I believe in lifelong learning and so does Boeing," she said. "I love this company. I'm very fortunate to be here, with a company that encourages employees to reach for their dreams. I just can't stop dreaming."

For Burrow, 56, one of her lifelong dreams has been to get her master's degree in administration. A pastor's wife and director of Christian education at her church in Spanish Lake, Burrow recognized something while she encouraged youth to make the best of their own lives:

"I have to practice what I preach," Burrow said. "I can't take anybody where I have not been. So instead of just talking about getting the degree, I decided to make it a goal and I wrote it down that goal on paper."

After doing some careful shopping around and a few classes here and there, she checked out Fontbonne OPTIONS and said she found her niche.

"I give everything I do a theme, and my theme for what's happening with OPTIONS is 'In the Pursuit of Excellence.' I've met the most wonderful people here. They walk their talk and they want to help me."

Burrow likes to think big, which explains why she's already talking about her master's degree, even though she's in the middle of coursework for her bachelor of business administration degree. She started classes in April and means it when she says she'll enroll right away for her next degree.

Most OPTIONS courses are five to eight weeks in length. All degree programs have been sequenced to be completed in two years or less. OPTIONS classes meet on the same evening each week.

Nearly 3,000 working adults have earned undergraduates and graduate degrees offered by Fontbonne University OPTIONS, a program designed specifically to meet the unique needs of adult students.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are accelerated and begin throughout the year at several convenient locations: Clayton, South County, North County and Chesterfield.

One of the many things that attracted Burrow to OPTIONS is the emphasis on study teams.

"I was number 15 out of 16 children, so I was born into a team," she said. "Team is all I know. OPTIONS is very serious about teamwork and they should be. That's what you need to get along in the workforce and just to be competitive in this global market."

Burrow called herself a "walking guru" of sorts and with an impressive background in public speaking and leadership, she brings a lot to any class discussion. But she recognizes that there is always more to learn.

"Most of the students in my group are younger than I am, but these instructors know their business and so do my classmates. We're learning from each other, and I'm discovering that there are really some things I don't know - fancy that!" she said with a giggle.

But the truth is, Burrow knows quite a lot, and she's been sharing her talents with generosity and conviction for some time, both in the professional arena, as well as in the community.

She joined the company in 1990, and was one of the first 16 recipients of the 2003 Boeing Global Diversity Change Agent Award. She serves on the board of directors of Aerospace Orators Toastmasters and is a member of Women in Aviation. Burrow regularly donates her time, talents and skills to many Boeing organizations by offering speaking seminars, workshops and leading community involvement efforts.

Still, she remains humble about the opportunities she's enjoyed.

"I just keep my priorities straight and I don't say 'yes' to everything," she said. "I pray and say 'yes' to some good things and that's the best way to make a difference, one person, one problem at a time."

Fontbonne University has been a provider of high-quality educational programs for more than 80 years. For more information, call 314-863-2220 or check out OPTIONS on the web.

with permission, copyright (2006) St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Education for Life Section