Pearl River Community College is proud to spotlight alumni as they move on in their professional and academic careers. Paula Merritt is a prime example of the achievements students at PRCC can aspire to accomplish.
Paula Merritt, PRCC Alumni, was recently selected as one of the Top Fifty Leading Business Women in Mississippi and had the opportunity to visit The Governor’s Mansion to be recognized for her accomplishments. Merritt says she graduated from high school and was unsure of what she wanted to pursue. One of the first steps she took toward making those decisions was making the choice to attend PRCC. Merritt stated that she started PRCC and was so surprised to meet people from all over the country that had vastly different experiences than she did. As she spent more time at PRCC she came to realize that the institution not only offered her a great learning experience but also sincere comradery with classmates that became lifelong friends.
During her time at PRCC she bonded with her instructors and staff including Jan Stevens, Donna Wilson, and Dr. Becky Askew.
“PRCC helped me grow as a person and education wise PRCC gave me what I needed to excel and realize I can do this,” said Merritt.
Merritt Graduated in 1994 with her Associates in Medical Office Terminology. She went out into the work force and continued there until 2002 when she decided she wanted to go back to school for business. After about 8 years out of school she once again trust PRCC with her transition as she entered back into college. “I was a non-traditional student coming back this time and I was afraid to jump back in, but my fears were null and void at PRCC,” said Merritt.
She transferred on to William Carey University to earn her Bachelors of Science in Business with a concentration in Management Marketing and a minor in Communications.
During her professional career Merritt worked in non-profit for United Blood Services (UBS) for almost a decade. During her employment with UBS, her main responsibility was to collect an adequate amount of blood from blood donors and to provide hospitals throughout the state for patient use. Additionally, she was a Community Relations Representative and worked with multiple businesses, factories, schools, and churches to coordinate blood drives at their locations.
Paula Merritt currently serves as the Area Sales Manager for Motorola Solutions, Inc. In this executive role, Paula has overall responsibility for leading a team of Sales executives, Engineers, Project Managers, Customer Support Managers and System Technologists for the States of Mississippi and Alabama. She orchestrates & provides leadership for the teams to provide mission critical voice and data communications and 911 solutions to all state and government & public safety customers. She has the responsibility to educate & inform all government & public safety agencies on new and emerging technologies ranging from handheld communication devices to 911 dispatching equipment. Paula has been an active contributor in the public safety market space for over 10 years. Before her promotion to Area Sales Manager, she served as the Account Executive for the State of Mississippi where she presented a number of solutions to public safety, mission critical first responder agencies to help make them better in the critical moments that matter. She still provides customers today with solutions that extend their lifeline in the critical moments that count.
When asked what she would want to tell current students trying to reach goals just like hers, she encouraged them to stay true to themselves and stay positive. She urged students to take advantage of the great staff and professors at PRCC while they have access to them. She said this allowed her to make an easier transition to the next level of her career. Finally, she hopes students understand the importance of making a difference and finding out what that means for them.
Merritt says that her family and her friends have helped her stay humble and encouraged her to achieve her goals. She talked about how important keeping the values and believes from her parents and grandparents have helped her stay true to herself. She sees herself as an optimistic realist and this helps her run with ideas and learn from mistakes when they come. In regard to her recognition as the one of the Top Fifty Leading Business Women in Mississippi, she spoke about what an amazing opportunity it was to be recognized for doing her job. “It is so amazing to be surrounded by 49 other successful women and very humbling to be chosen for this recognition.”
Merritt says she knows she will always be a wildcat no matter where her career takes her. “PRCC is still a part of who I am. Those experiences have stayed with me forever and made a big difference in my life.”
PRCC is so proud of Paula Merritt and what she has accomplished so far and can’t wait to see what this Wildcat will go on to do in the future!