To everyone re-evaluating what they’re doing with their life right now, Jane Arney has some good news for you. “It’s never too late to follow your dreams,” she says.
At 62, self-proclaimed “late bloomer” Arney is happily settled into a career she loves, serving as the Director of Foundation and Corporate Relations for Atlanta Mission, a nonprofit organization that helps the homeless in Atlanta, Georgia. The enthusiasm in her voice makes it obvious she enjoys what she does. “It makes me feel good to know I’m helping people. I’m excited to go to work every day,” she says.
Her dream job didn’t materialize overnight. Arney dropped out of high school in the 1970s, assuming she wasn’t going to go to college. She found herself in retail management, which she enjoyed, but eventually it left her feeling burned out. Intuition told her she wasn’t on the right path, and she decided to go back to school.
Arney applied to MiraCosta. “I had a lot of fear about it. I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted because I didn’t have a high school degree. I was in my forties then, and I worried about being older than the other students. But once I got on campus, I took to school like a duck takes to water,” she laughs. “I couldn’t get enough of it.”
A long time reader with a passion for art, Arney dove into English and art history classes, where she excelled. She credits her professors for boosting her confidence.
After nearly six years at MiraCosta while working full time, Arney transferred to University of California, Riverside and graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude studying art history at The University of Texas at Austin for her Master’s degree and then Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, for her Ph.D.
She raves about her time as a student and scholar. “It was such an adventure!” she says. “I never imagined the things I’d do in school. I’ve been all over the world, studying art, giving presentations, and participating in archeological digs in Greece and the ancient city of Pompei.”
Asked how she went from art history scholarship to the nonprofit world, Arney explains that service is another part of who she is. “It’s a calling of mine. I’m a woman of faith, and I felt like I was being guided toward work that helped people. My job at Atlanta Mission is to write grants to raise money for the organization, and my education prepared me to be successful at doing that—my role requires extensive research and writing. So far, we’ve already passed our goal this year, raising over a million dollars.”
Sitting back at her desk, Jane Arney sounds content. “We help about 7,000 homeless people each year, and that’s an incredible feeling. I’m thankful I decided to follow my dreams and apply to MiraCosta all those years ago. That choice set all of this into motion. I’m happy to say, I’m where I’m supposed to be.”