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Veteran Earns White House Recognition

Entrepreneurs must master the art of juggling to be successful. This is a lesson that Marylyn Harris ’07, University of St. Thomas Cameron School of Business alumna, knows all too well. Today she manages several separate business ventures, is a sought-after speaker on veteran benefits and entrepreneurial opportunities, and raises two children.

Harris has been recognized with local and national accolades for her work. This year alone, she received the 2013 White House Champion of Change award, awarded by First Lady Michelle Obama, and was honored by Mayor Annise Parker at the 2013 Small Business Awards Luncheon for her Women Veterans Business Center.

The Women Veteran’s Business Center is her most recent venture and is aimed at educating and empowering women veterans and veteran families to own businesses. This is an issue close to her heart as she herself is a disabled woman veteran and entrepreneur. She wrote two books on the topic, “25 FREE Resources Every Texas Veteran Needs to Know” and “25 FREE Resources Every Texas Woman Veteran Needs to Know.”

 “Taking my kids to the White House is definitely a highlight,” Harris said. “I have a life that is full of highlights. It is just a testimony to the abundant blessings in my life.”

Aside from the Center, she is the President and CEO of Harrland Healthcare Consulting LLC, a medical consulting company that provides healthcare service and products, and is the National Ambassador for V-Wise, a program committed to providing women Veterans the tools to become successful entrepreneurs. Before Harris was an entrepreneurial success she had been a nurse for more than 20 years and served in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm. Beginning to feel burned out and observing that healthcare was increasingly less about care and more about business, she knew she owed it to herself to go to business school.  

Through her work with the Army, Harris was given the opportunity to serve her country.  As a nurse she was able to serve the sick and infirm. Likewise, her studies at St. Thomas provided her with tools she now uses to serve her fellow veterans.

Harris had a full St. Thomas experience; she wrote for The Cauldron student newspaper, served in the student senate and went on study abroad trips. It was then that she began to hone her global perspective. She plans to work in international business, and after meeting other students from all over the globe, found it would be an attainable dream.

“What my education at St. Thomas did was take someone who was very much a business novice and gave me a knowledge base,” Harris said. “It gave me not only an introduction to economics, marketing and accounting, it gave me a global perspective on life.”

Her education is marked with hard work and motivation. It was this motivation that afforded her the opportunity to participate in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans after earning her MBA at St. Thomas. The boot camp is a program for disabled veterans, in conjunction with eight business schools, that teaches veterans the fundamentals of developing and executing a business plan. It was at Florida State University, while attending this boot camp, when Harris put together the business plan for the Women Veterans Business Center. After presenting her business plan to her boot camp professors and community investors, she was awarded $1,000 to help launch her business.  Five months later she launched the Women Veterans Business Center in Houston.

Harris is not content to rest on her past success. She intends to pursue a doctoral degree so that she may teach at a collegiate level in the future. She also wants to continue growing her current business ventures. Harris is setting her trajectory “northeast,” which is to say she is moving forward and moving up.