As part of her business, The Art of Success for Women, Angela Anderson leads women through an initial 12-week session that rests on the three pillars of structure, support and spirit. These workshops lay the foundation for women to believe in themselves and learn to empower one another.
An alumna’s journey of self-discovery and empowerment
“I know for a fact that watching my family’s struggles informed what I do now,” said Angela Anderson ’93. “For me, it was witnessing what it’s like to be disempowered and not wanting to go through that myself and wanting to prevent that for anyone else.”
Today, Anderson is a women’s leadership development trainer and success coach who empowers courageous women to lead inspiring lives. But, growing up in Zephyrhills, Fla., she didn’t know what it meant to be a courageous, empowered woman. Bouncing from place to place, at one point living in a run-down motel across the street from her high school, with a mother who hadn’t finished eighth grade and was stuck with no real options, Anderson was determined to break away from all of those limitations.
“When I was 5 years old, I didn’t know what college was, but I knew I was going to go,” she recalled. “I made that decision at a young age and never gave up on it.”
She pushed through high school working three jobs while maintaining an impressive GPA. In her senior year, her aunt sent her an article about Berea College, and she discovered her photography teacher had gone to Berea. Wading through difficult circumstances, Anderson caught the attention of her guidance counselor. He called John Cook, then Berea’s admissions director, and because of Anderson’s strong academic performance, Cook accepted her over the phone.
That moment of acceptance was such a relief, she recalled. No longer having to worry about whether she would get in, Anderson was able to focus on completing high school and becoming the first in her family to attend college. Berea became the complete restart she had been seeking.
“Berea was so welcoming to me and gave me a sense of home when I didn’t have that,” Anderson said. That sense of home was created through relationships with professors and labor supervisors. Anderson worked under public relations director, Ed Ford, for three years in her labor position.
“Everyone in my family was a blue collar worker,” Anderson said. “My mom was a waitress and my dad was a mechanic—I didn’t know anybody who wasn’t. Working in a professional setting was hugely beneficial to me, and I felt empowered by having those experiences.”
In addition, faculty members like English Professor Barbara Wade influenced Anderson. While working under Wade’s guidance in the Women’s Studies department, Anderson remembers the beginnings of Peanut Butter and Gender, a regular luncheon lecture series focused on issues of gender and culture, and how the speakers and discussions inspired her to look at what it meant to be an educated woman.
“I had no examples of that, or what it took to be empowered and successful,” Anderson said. “We were figuring out how to create a collective of women collaborating in lifting up one another.”
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was hugely impactful, and I am so thankful. Without Barbara Wade, I wouldn’t have graduated,” Anderson continued. However, it was a big leap from these conversations around female empowerment and community to her current career of emboldening women to live out their purposes. It took a couple of intermediate steps.
In 1992, Anderson met Matthew Saderholm ’92. She graduated from Berea in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in English, and the two moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where Saderholm pursued his doctoral degree and she began a career in publishing. When the company went out of business, Anderson visited a women’s center in Chapel Hill and participated in vocational testing to identify new directions. Interestingly, the tests conveyed an aptitude for science, and Anderson decided to enroll in medical school.
[pullquote cite=”Angela Anderson” type=”left”]My work with women empowers them to live their potential so they can create the financial security and health they want for their families and themselves.[/pullquote]
Anderson and Saderholm married in 1996 in Danforth Chapel, and by 1999, Anderson had her first child, and the couple moved back to Berea where he accepted a faculty position in the Chemistry department. She continued pursuing medical school until the birth of their second child, and because that child was ill, Anderson chose to stay home and take care of her children.
“For a long time I beat myself up that I didn’t pick a path and stay with that direction,” Anderson said. “I wish someone had told me that as a woman you have to continually reinvent yourself.”
In 2000, Anderson was diagnosed with a genetic disorder known as Lynch Syndrome—the same disease that took her mother’s life at only 48 years old, as well as several other family members in their 30s. Growing up, no one in her family had health insurance, which meant they could not get the screenings and treatment that might have enabled them to live longer.
“When I didn’t become a doctor, seeing what happened to my family inspired me to work with women in the way I do now,” Anderson said. “Now, my work with women empowers them to live their potential so they can create the financial security and health they want for their families and themselves.” These were women who knew they were here for a purpose, but didn’t know where to start and felt undeserving of success.
She recalled all the teachers and women in her life who believed in her, saw her potential and believed she could be more than the life from which she had come. Guided by the mantra, “I’ll hold the light for you until you can see it for yourself,” Anderson strives to provide that encouragement for her clients.
After attending numerous conferences and benefitting from the advice and examples of hundreds of women with whom she has worked, learned and grown for nearly a decade, Anderson officially launched her business, The Art of Success for Women, about three years ago.
As part of her business, she leads women through an initial 12-week session that rests on the three pillars of structure, support and spirit. Through their work with Anderson, many of these women have found their purpose while doubling or tripling their incomes.
“It’s a process to find out what they really want in their hearts,” Anderson explained. “I know if they show up, commit to themselves and do the work, amazing things happen.”
And Anderson has seen amazing things happen in the lives of these women. She helped one woman in her 60s who had lost her daughter to a heroin overdose and was about to file bankruptcy due to her faltering business. She had no belief in herself. After working with Anderson, she didn’t file bankruptcy. Instead, she went into a career that fed her soul and, over time, rebuilt her business, Anderson recalled.
“Her life was completely changed,” she added. “She regained a sense of herself. That’s the absolute best part of my work—witnessing other women step into their own power.”
It was disheartening for Anderson to watch her mother’s experience, so today, at 49 years of age, she feels fortunate to be doing this work.
“It’s less about where I am in my business and more about what difference I can make for other people,” Anderson said. “I want to work with more women. I want to see more women living their own expressions of who they are and being financially independent.”