Marilyn Browning 3

Longtime educator fondly remembers walking in first graduation

Longtime educator fondly remembers walking in first graduation

Mon Mar 18, 2019

Marilyn Browning 1

Marilyn Browning poses for a photo recently in the Brazosport College Student Pavilion.

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One of Marilyn Browning’s college photos.

The year was 1968 and Marilyn Browning was living a busy, but fulfilling, life. A daughter in one of Lake Jackson’s original pioneer families, she was now happily married to the man of her dreams and embracing being the mother of their five children.

However, she had dreams of earning a college education.

So, when Brazosport College opened its doors and began welcoming students to its Freeport campus, she jumped at the chance of being able to attend a college close to home.

A couple of years later, Marilyn not only earned an Associate of Arts degree, she also became an important name in the history of Brazosport College.

Marilyn was a member of Brazosport College’s first graduating class in 1970. In fact, she was the second person to walk across the stage and accept a degree. A total of 25 students graduated on that day in late May.

Technically, Marilyn and those 24 other students attended and graduated from Brazosport Junior College, but the name was shortened to Brazosport College when the campus moved to its current Lake Jackson location less than a year later.

“I was in the first class to graduate from Brazosport College and I certainly take some pride in that,” Marilyn said.

“I was also blessed to be the first Distinguished Student to graduate from Brazosport College, by virtue of the fact that my last name started with a ‘B’ and there wasn’t anyone with an ‘A,’” she added with a laugh.

Marilyn has plenty of memories of her time at Brazosport College, including some of the challenges she overcame to attend the school.

“It was a new frontier for me because I was 30 when I started,” she said. “I didn’t even know how to drive, so I had to catch rides with people to get to class. Eventually, I did learn to drive, but it wasn’t until after I had graduated.

“But I was probably better prepared to go to college at that time than I would have been when I was younger,” she added. “I was much more focused and dedicated.”

For Marilyn, earning a degree from Brazosport College wasn’t only about achieving a lifelong goal, it was also an opportunity to provide a little extra security for her family.

“I already had five children when I went to Brazosport College, but I had total cooperation from my parents, my husband’s parents and my husband, Glenn,” she said. “He paid the tuition and believed it was a good investment. In case anything ever happened to him, I would have an education.”

It was an investment that definitely paid off.

After graduating from Brazosport College, Marilyn went on to earn her Bachelor of Elementary Education from the University of Houston, which paved the way for a 32-year teaching career. Although a majority of her career was with Brazosport ISD — many will fondly remember her as a first-grade teacher at T.W. Ogg Elementary School in Clute — she also spent time working for Sweeny and Angleton ISDs.

“It was always a dream of mine to teach,” Marilyn said. “But I also became very interested in psychology while at Brazosport College. That ended up being my minor once I went off to the University of Houston. Having a minor in psychology really serves you well as a teacher.”

Today, Marilyn is 82 years old and has lived in the area for 77 years. She’s an important figure in Lake Jackson history, as her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Theo Newsom, are among the city’s pioneers. As a member of the one of Lake Jackson’s first families, Marilyn has witnessed the tremendous growth of both Brazoria County and Brazosport College through the years.

“This college is so beautiful,” she said during a recent visit to the school. “There have been so many additions to this campus. Brazosport College has changed as much as Lake Jackson has.”

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the love story between Marilyn and Glenn. The couple has celebrated 66 years of marriage, raised a family and is now having a blast spoiling their 19 grandchildren and great grandchildren.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” she said. “He made sure all of his children and his wife received a higher education, but he never went to college.

“And he is way smarter than I am,” she added with a smile.

Looking back, it’s been 50 years since Marilyn nervously stepped onto the Brazosport College campus with a dream of working toward a college education. Today, she is enjoying a well-earned retirement, while being a prime example of what can be achieved with dedication and hard work.

“I was at the right place at the right time,” she said of the decision to enroll at Brazosport College. “I’m very thankful that God provided me the opportunity to do it.”