College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences
Terri N. Deerr
Class of '84
Terri N. Deerr knows how to help shape attitudes. She is currently providing marketing and development services to a nonprofit in Alexandria, Va., where she lives. The organization’s mission is to help aging citizens remain independently in their homes by providing essential services such as transportation, light home maintenance, technology assistance and companionship.
But even as a new graduate in 1984, with a B.S. degree in social science, she knew how to change minds. “In my first interview, I was told by someone with a pronounced Ivy League bias that my Cal Poly credentials meant I hadn’t attended a ‘real’ school,” she recalls. “I suggested he judge me on my skills and performance rather than by that arbitrary standard. When that did not seem to resonate with him, I simply advised him to hire me or not hire me, but to stop insulting me. I got the job. Several iterations later, I was part owner of that company.”
That positive attitude set Deerr up for success through the years. “I find new ways of thinking and exploring alternative solutions to old problems and proactive approaches to issues to be stimulating and enriching both personally and professionally,” she says. “Much of my career has been in international marketing, a job that has allowed me to travel extensively and gain a deep appreciation for multicultural – and often highly innovative – perspectives across a wide spectrum of products and services.”
It was the opportunity for exposure to innovation that led her to her chosen field. “As a social science major, I was able to take courses in a variety of areas. Cal Poly not only provided me the technical tools and knowledge base that enabled my future success, but imbued me with a sense of self-confidence that I could meet any challenge.”
Since leaving her primary career as partner in a global marketing firm, Deerr, the married mother of a college-aged daughter, has worked in the nonprofit sector, “helping to improve the health and well-being of humankind,” she says. “My interest is in shifting the health care paradigm from disease management to wellness and disease prevention.”
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