A first-generation student from rural Tennessee, Dr. Jeanie Gail Ashe Bowman, ’66, is grateful to the generosity of an older sister whose financial sacrifices made college possible. Once at Eastern, she discovered “opportunities, personal fulfillment and an exciting, rewarding career, although different from one I’d intended.” What she intended was a major in “commerce” and eventually becoming a CEO’s executive secretary.
But Jeanie Gail Ashe’s communication skills, said professor Aimee Alexander, demanded a second major in English. She should also get a teaching certificate for “insurance,” suggested business professor Edsel Mountz. She did both, graduating “with high distinction” and “the very best personal reward, my heart and soul,” her husband, Dr. Jeff Ray Bowman, ’65, who joined EKU’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni last year. They met when she was the 1964 Homecoming Queen and he was her escort as commander of the Pershing Rifles.
Thriving in “this big, new word of higher education,” she went on to earn a master’s at Eastern, a vocational education certificate at Ball State University and a doctorate from the University of Southern Mississippi. Now she assembled her skills for worldwide outreach, forming J. Bowman Associates and delivering more than 2,000 seminars on written and interpersonal communications, office management and leadership skills to military personnel and civilian/corporate employees in the U.S., the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey and South Korea. Crisscrossing America, she gave seminars for utility, insurance, childcare and hospital management firms. The young student who once hoped to be an executive secretary founded and chartered the first chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals in Heidelberg, Germany.
Now living in Hattiesburg, Miss., Bowman and her husband run small businesses in real estate, timber and antiques. Success follows their endeavors. Managing a 360-acre tree farm, the couple was named 2008 Mississippi Conservationists of the Year. “I’ve been fortunate to absolutely love my work,” she says. “It just doesn’t get any better than that. Thank you, Eastern!”