UI accountant Amanda Brown, a university employee for nearly 15 years, has always been in it for the long haul.
Brown, an amateur athlete turned long-distance runner, has set her own career pace and each step has been as important as the last.
A part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences' Shared Service Business Center staff for almost two years, Brown started out in an Extra Help position with the Provost's Office.
She stayed there for four years and was promoted to a Secretary IV position, a job that exposed her to new tasks and experiences and set her on a career path that eventually led to her current position.
"It was a great experience and I learned a lot," she said of her work in the Provost's Office. "There was a lot of networking and meeting new people and I made a lot of contacts."
That led to a five-year stint in the College of Education budget office, where she was promoted to clerk, and four more at the Information Trust Institute.
"I've gotten to work with the budget offices in all of the colleges," she said, "which has given me a lot of hands-on training and experience."
Brown said she has been amazed at the number of "wonderfully dedicated" people who work at the university.
"At every job I've had I've made lifelong friends," she said. "I know that one person can change the entire work environment and make a positive impact. I do my best to be that person. Working at the university - it's like family here."
While Brown's off-work time is devoted to running long distances, at the office she's not afraid to sprint.
She came to LAS as part of a shared-service business center set up to better-serve several smaller units in the college. Her office works with the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, Latino/a Studies, Gender and Women's Studies and American Indian Studies.
She said the change has kept her busy and challenged, and the program has been successful.
"I think it's working well," she said. "We've been able to serve those units more efficiently this way. It's kept me jumping, which is good because I like to stay busy."
Serving as a clerk for more than a decade, Brown rose to her Accountant I position after returning to school to earn a four-year degree, which she accomplished through a partnership between Parkland College and Eastern Illinois University.
She said the degree, and the new position, had been her goals since childhood. She eventually wants to earn a master's degree.
"I was always more budget-inclined and I've always loved numbers," she said. "Growing up, I wanted to be a businesswoman in Spain."
Prior to the UI, Brown worked alongside husband, Kolin, at a company that distributes video games. He still works there, but she left to become a stay-at-home mom for a short time after their daughter was born.
"I knew he was serious about it when he volunteered to quit so we could be together," she said. "Thankfully, he didn't quit."
After 16 years of marriage, "It was definitely worth it," she said.
The couple moved to Mahomet six years ago and have a 15-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.
When she's not running on some local roadside she's running the kids to various school activities. She is involved in the school's booster group and has done more than her share of decorating lockers and serving popcorn at sporting events.
"It can get overwhelming sometimes, but I only do well when I'm super busy," she said. "I believe if you don't have something to do, then find something. My parents both really instilled a strong work ethic."
Brown originally is from Rantoul, where her father was the longtime production manager at the local newspaper. Her mother worked nearly 30 years at the UI College of Medicine.
She said she's trying to pass the family work ethic on to her children.
"I've told my kids, 'I want you to be a part of something,' " she said. "It doesn't have to be what I like to do, but you have to be involved."
Brown doesn't just preach the "keep busy, keep involved" message, she lives it.
She started running four years ago to get in shape and before long it had become more obsession than hobby.
She worked her way up to 3 miles a day and then started training with a friend who was training for the Illinois Marathon.
"One day we ran 5 miles, and I just couldn't believe it because 3 had been hurting me," she said. "It was such a thrill and then I just caught the fever."
That led to entry in the event's half-marathon race two years ago, which Brown finished, and then to out-of-town long-distance races. Last weekend she traveled to Disney World in Florida, where she ran the half-marathon "princess race" dressed as the Disney character Ariel from the "Little Mermaid" animated movie.
She credits the local race for making her believe she was capable of reaching such lofty running goals.
"So many people have started running because of the Illinois Marathon," she said. "It's a really great event for this community."
Since then she's shared her running obsession with others, starting a group called Mahama Mommas that has grown to 30 members.
"I love to run with other people, so this has been great," she said. "The number of participants really exploded last year. Running is a very individual activity, but the more people you have the more encouragement you receive."
She said she's even gotten her husband and his stepmother to start running and that both of them have increased their distances over time.
"I'm a pusher, I guess," she said. "My job is the encourager and I like to see people achieve their goals."