Bonnie Barrer has come a long way since she graduated from Mankato Area Vocational Technical Institute, now known as South Central College, in 1981. She has spent more than twenty-seven years working in the beverage industry, beginning in frontline sales and working her way through account management, sales management and General Manager roles to her current position as Director of Sales and Marketing at Gillette Pepsi. As Director, Barrer is responsible for all aspects of the sales and marketing functions within Gillette Pepsi locations including La Crosse, WI, Rochester and Mankato, MN and Decorah, IA.
Barrer is a strong proponent of the value of education. “I knew that I’d need to further my education after high school to have a career,” she said. “I was very fortunate that it started me on a path in business.” Barrer said she used what she learned in college to advance in the positions that she held. In addition to academics, she said she gained valuable organizational and interpersonal skills while attending college.
Barrer said she was drawn to SCC because of its size and affordability. “It was affordable for me at the time. I was paying for my own college. I also liked that I could work in my field of study while attending classes. This allowed me to apply what I was learning and earn money to cover expenses,” she said. Barrer said she graduated from a small high school, and found it easy to transition to SCC because she found similarities. “One size doesn’t fit all,” she said, adding that being on a 20,000-student campus isn’t right for everyone. She said for some people, SCC is just not as overwhelming as a large university, and it has so much to offer.
When asked how SCC has changed since she attended, Barrer said the two-year transferable Associate in Arts degree was a very important addition, giving SCC students the availability to start working toward a four-year degree. In fact, SCC’s enrollment grew steadily after the Associate in Arts degree was added as an option for students.