Janette Bradley Wright is staff secretary for the College of Communications, department of advertising for about a year, and she’s been in the department for about 10 years.
Photo by Bill Wiegand
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JOB:Staff secretary for the College of Communications, department of advertising for about a year, and she’s been in the department for about 10 years. She started working at the UI 12 years ago as clerk typist and has worked her way up with three promotions and is currently working on achieving the title administrative secretary. She and her husband, James Michael Wright, live in Champaign, with their two children, Brianna, 4, and Bradley, 6. Janette was recently named Parent of the Year at the Eager Beaver Preschool her daughter attends.
Do you like the job of a secretary?
Oh yeah. I always thought I’d be a teacher for some reason, but when I went in the military I was an administrative assistant, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since 1981. I like it.
Did you go in the military right after high school?
After I graduated I went to Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo. I got pretty good grades, but my study habits weren’t too great, therefore, I decided to enlist in the U.S. Army and I did four years of active duty service.
Where did you serve?
I was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, for basic training and then I spent a year and a half at Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Then I transferred to Seoul, Korea. I was originally scheduled to do a one-year assignment in Korea but I extended it to two because I liked it so much.
What did you like about Korea?
Clothes. Everything was really inexpensive. Whenever I got homesick I went shopping, which was every weekend.
What did you do after you got out of the Army?
I didn’t know what I was going to do. I spent some time in Maryland, Mo., and Chicago and then one day in August 1987 I decided to visit a sister who lived in Urbana and I’ve been here ever since.
What did you like about Champaign?
It seemed like a nice town. It wasn’t too big or too small. I consider myself a country girl. Anyway, I liked Champaign, and I decided to stay. I also think it’s a nice place to raise children.
Where are you from?
I grew up in East Prairie, Mo., which is about 10 to 15 miles from Cairo, Ill. The population is about 1,400. My mom and dad live 15 to 20 miles from town. My dad has been a farmer all his life – raising soybeans, milo, wheat and corn.
Did your mom help him farm?
She was always a stay-at-home mom. They had 11 kids – five boys and six girls.
Where were you in the family? What was that like?
I’m fifth from the oldest. It wasn’t fun. I always thought I was the black sheep of the family. I always felt like no one paid any attention to me. I always got teased quite a bit and it caused me to have low self esteem. I think it turned me into an unhappy person. I had gotten to a point where I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror. I never smiled. But I remember when I was 12 or 13 I looked in the mirror one particular day and I saw somebody totally different than I had seen before. From that day on I began to smile and that made me feel better about myself. I didn’t feel totally confident until I was a senior in high school, and I was the first black homecoming queen in the history of the school. That was a wonderful experience that I will never forget. To this day, I have a very positive outlook on life. I try to treat everyone the same way I would like to be treated.
Tell me about your husband.
We’ve been married since 1993. He’s a Local 44 union carpenter. He’s really involved in the community. He’s also involved a great deal with the church we attend and he’s studying to become a minister. He gave his first sermon back on June 15 and it was really nice. We attend St. Luke CME Church in Champaign.
What do you like about being a secretary in the advertising department?
I like the people I work with most of all - Cinda Robbins-Cornstubble and [department head] Linda Scott. It’s like we’re best friends, but we know how to be professional and how to laugh and joke at the same time. I love working with them. They’re the best, and there is nothing I couldn’t ask of them.
I also have three student workers who really do a great job in keeping the department running smoothly.
Have you learned a lot on the job?
I definitely have. I like every part of my job. I have some bad days, everybody does. But overall it’s a great place to work.
So you’re pretty glad you stopped in Champaign to visit your sister back in 1987?
Oh yes. When I went home at Thanksgiving to visit my family – I either talked about my job or the people I worked with. I’m just happy and I think everyone in my family knew that I loved working here.