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Alumni of the Month

November 2011
Margaret Brennan Bermel, M.B.A. '85

What was your favorite class, professor, or fondest memory of Hofstra?
Dr. Hal Lazarus was my favorite professor.  He brought an enthusiasm to his class that made learning an enjoyable experience.  Dr. Lazarus was my master’s thesis advisor for “The Golden Handshake: Incentives for Early Retirement”, which led to co-authoring two published articles with Dr. Lazarus:  “Golden Handshakes: A win-win way to cut staff” and “America is Retiring Early.”

What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
My first job after graduating from Hofstra was as a financial analyst with a company called Patient Technology.  The most valuable thing I learned there was the importance of honesty and ethics in business dealings and in standing up for what is right.

What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
I am the chief fiscal officer of a large government organization.  As a graduate student at Hofstra, I participated in the internship program and my placement was with a county government.  After leaving patient technology, I returned to county government, accepting a position in the County Budget Office, and I worked my way up over the past 25+ years to my present position.

What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Explore every opportunity. Make your own mistakes, but learn from them. Listen to good advice. Be honest. Treat everyone with respect. Be professional.

In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
Challenging (I know, one word, but challenging in the sense that Hofstra challenges students to achieve their personal best.).

How has your degree helped you?
I never would have been able to accomplish what I have accomplished without my degree. When I started the M.B.A. program, the professor at orientation told the incoming class that we would learn to think differently. I was skeptical, but it was true. What I learned at Hofstra was how to think differently, objectively, and critically in order to solve complex problems.

Who in your field do you most admire?
A fellow M.B.A., my brother Michael Brennan, spent much of his career working in Kenya, Rwanda, Bulgaria, Macedonia, and other developing countries post-strife.  He has a published essay in Michael Fairbanks’ book “In the River They Swim: A Collection of Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.”  He thinks globally and acts globally; I admire his efforts to help countries recover from horrific events and to try to help make the world a better place. 

Do you have any future plans to write any more books?
I describe myself as an “accidental author.”  I had no plans to write this book, but felt compelled to share what I had learned from my research about healthcare choices for the treatment of cancer.  I don’t have any immediate plans to write another book, but one never knows!

Margaret Brennan Bermel, M.B.A. '85

Margaret Brennan Bermel, M.B.A. '85, chronicles her personal journey, while searching both for truth about the cancer industry and for inspiration about the purpose of life, in her new book, The Cancer Odyssey: Discovering Truth and Inspiration on the Way to Wellness. This is a blueprint to help others overcome the fear of cancer and return to wellness. It offers an approach to dealing with cancer from a new viewpoint; it empowers people to challenge the medical advice of chemotherapy that most people have unquestioningly accepted as the only option. The Cancer Odyssey encourages people to question and research, and to take their healthcare decisions into their own hands, because survival depends upon making the right decision. 

In 2009, Margaret was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her world suddenly changed.  She started blogging about her discoveries.  As her research progressed to the discovery of the truths about conventional research, she also opened up to the inspiration that life offers to us all on a daily basis, if only we pay attention.  She is an “accidental” author; she never intended to write a book, and certainly never a book about cancer.  The book unfolded as her journey unfolded. Her intention is to challenge the reader to suspend his/her belief system in the traditional approach to cancer. 

Margaret lives on Long Island with her husband and cats.  She graduated from Marywood University cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in music.  She met her husband on Fire Island in 1979, and lived in Phoenix, Arizona, for a year.  She returned to the East Coast in the early ’80s and graduated in 1985 with an M.B.A. with Distinction from Hofstra University.  She was also awarded the honor of M.B.A. Student of the Year.  She previously co-authored management articles published in scholarly journals, and was the co-recipient of the Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior Journal Distinguished Paper Award in 1985.  She is a 1st degree black belt and an avid golfer.  She is past president of her neighborhood association, Bellport Beach Property Owners’ Association.  Margaret has worked as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist; a supervisor for the U.S. Census Bureau; a recreation therapist at a state psychiatric facility; a budget examiner; a finance director; and is presently chief fiscal officer of a large government organization.

Margaret states that “All the pieces of the puzzle of my life fit together in this book, and now the picture of my life makes sense and has purpose: to bring this important message to others.  This is the culmination of my life.  Everything in my life experience has congealed in the creation of this book.”