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Phoenix Forward magazine

Doctoral graduate focuses on empowering women

Mary Ann O'Neil

For University of Phoenix alumna Mary Ann O’Neil, a rain puddle is not an obstacle — it’s an opportunity.

That’s how the founder of Successtrogen.com approaches life these days. “It can be the littlest things that make me stop and think,” she says. “Like that puddle: Will I walk around — or through it? Do I see symbolism in the ripples? What might that imagery mean to my readers?”

Her thoughts often become fodder for the blog she publishes on her website, which is devoted to empowering women and motivating them toward success at home, at work and in life.

O’Neil says that sometimes women just need to slow down and take stock. It’s a theme that resonates in her blog posts. “I want to help create an awareness that the things we’re looking for are often right in front of us,” she notes. “We just need to pay closer attention.”

A lifetime of experience has brought her views into sharper focus.

Don’t let your success be defined by someone else. Take the time to define yourself: Are you where you want to be?

Several years ago, O’Neil explains, she thought she was paying attention to her marriage. “It seemed idyllic,” she recalls of her 32 years with her husband and the five children they raised. A corporate trainer by profession, O’Neil had led marriage retreats and offered couples advice alongside her husband.

Then the marriage fell apart.

“I was horrified when I found myself getting a divorce,” she says. “I had devoted my life to taking care of everyone else. I knew all my kids’ and my husband’s favorite things. But I didn’t know my own.

“Alone, after all those years,” she adds, “I had to relearn what it is that I like to do.”

O’Neil rediscovered her own passions through playing tennis and by launching the website. In 2012, at age 67, she completed her Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership degree. Today, she also contributes to another women’s website, Beauty Bean, and is pursuing her dream of becoming a published author.

“Not everyone gets a doctorate, but I always thought that those who did were extraordinary,” she says. “Now that I have my degree, I’m ecstatic. That I completed it at my age clearly shows that I did it for myself — and no one else.”

Always looking for a life lesson to share, she adds, “But that doesn’t mean you need to do that, too. Don’t let your success be defined by someone else. Take the time to define yourself: Are you where you want to be?”

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