From Westport to Webster

Avonda Anderson, MA ’14

Amir Clark, Class of 2020


 by Jennifer Starkey, BA ’98, MA ’16

Photo courtesy of Avonda Anderson

Avonda Anderson graduated with her master's degree in procurement and acquisitions management in 2014. Avonda has a career spent working for Fortune 500 companies including Boeing, MasterCard and Wells Fargo and is now the owner of her own business Melanated Rich. Her son, Amir Clark, is just finishing up the first semester of his freshman year in the department of biological sciences at Webster with the ultimate goal of becoming a doctor. Although Avonda spent her time at the Westport location and Amir is in Webster Groves, it’s clear to see that their focus on education was a priority when selecting Webster University.

What attracted you both to Webster?

For me, Webster offered a program that no other university offered at the time, and I loved that it was a private university. This meant that I would get the best education that was personalized for my needs. Being a single parent I needed a flexible program and while obtaining my master’s I was able to attend classes on campus as well as online to suit my needs.

A little bit of everything attracted me to Webster — the facilities, class size, the curriculum and more. It was also the alma mater of my mom — and she loved it. She was a big help in my college choice. It was almost like it was her decision as well. My mother and I are extremely close. I could have been fine going away to school but I would also be okay with staying home and going to school. I wanted to make sure I was in a place I could be comfortable the next four years.

How did you make education a priority in your house?

I have tried my best to instill the importance of education to Amir. He saw first-hand how hard it was for us at times, and he saw me stay up late and write papers for school. I wanted him to have the best education possible, and I knew Webster would be a great choice. If Webster was good enough to educate me, then they are a place that I would also choose to educate my only son.

Since I could walk, education has been the number one thing in our household. It's shown in my mom and now after working for multiple Fortune 500 companies, she has her own business, Melanated Rich. I know for my own goal of becoming a pediatrician it's not possible without an education.

I agree — it’s number one! I tell Amir and his sister all the time that their only job is to go to school and make good grades. If you fail to educate yourself, then you have no opportunity. I would not be where I am today if it were not for my education. When companies see that I took time to invest in myself, they are more willing to invest in me as well. I have also created my own businesses and opportunities due to what I have learned in school.

Photo courtesy of Avonda Anderson
How has it been watching each other experience Webster University?

I think mom was going to school when I was in middle school through high school. She was so committed. I know she was extremely tired of having a long day at work and then having to go to school, plus take care of us. But that's just the type of motivation and determination you need to be successful.

It’s been great watching him become his own man and seeing him grow and live for the first time away from home. It’s bittersweet but I couldn’t be happier that he is in good hands at Webster University.  Amir is pretty resourceful on his own, I taught him well. I have had to give him some pointers about financial aid and staying focused, but overall I am so proud of him.

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