Daughter continues mom’s legacy at Palm Beach State College

Isabella Henderson (left) with her mom Paula McLeod

When Isabella Henderson started taking classes at PBSC, she was confident she would get a great education. That’s because Henderson was following in the footsteps of her mother, Paula McLeod, who not only shared with her the benefits of attending, but that the College would offer her a great path to a university like it did for her.

McLeod, the vice president of major gifts at the United Way of Palm Beach County, and Henderson, who is pursuing an Associate in Science degree in Human Services, are an example of the many alumni legacies being built within families at PBSC.

McLeod enrolled at Palm Beach State from 1991 – 93 because she saw the benefits of staying local. She later transferred to Palm Beach Atlantic University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in communications. Both institutions provided her with a solid educational foundation that launched her career as a nonprofit and community relations professional.

Today, she is currently responsible for designing, implementing and sustaining successful fundraising programs and more for the United Way and has an extensive history of fundraising, managing events, creating public relations and marketing campaigns for companies such as Baptist Health South Florida, Bethesda Health and Florida Power & Light.

Her journey started in high school, where McLeod helped take care of her grandmother who lived in their home. In addition, her mother was going through cancer.

“There was a lot to deal with, so it was really helpful to my parents that I was still here to help out while in college, said McLeod.

McLeod’s mother also couldn’t help her fill out a lot of college applications due to her illness. She was able to get the help she needed, however, after visiting the PBSC admissions office that was close by.

While on campus, McLeod remembered seeing a lot of people she knew from high school, which she found comforting as she adapted to a new environment.

“My mom always spoke very highly of PBSC,” said Henderson, a full-time nanny to six children. “This made me more confident in my choice to attend.”

McLeod also shared with her daughter that some of her best memories happened at PBSC. One of which came when she met her speech professor, Arthur “Art” Musto, a retired Hollywood actor.

“He was an amazing teacher and encouraged me to get involved in theatre classes,” said McLeod.

She took his advice, made friends quickly and acted in a play titled “Look Homeward Angel.”

“That was such a special performance to be a part of because it was part of the College’s 60th anniversary celebration, and two former alumni who had starred in it previously came back to play their parts again.”

Like her mom, Henderson is also enjoying her experience at PBSC and says she feels like she is surrounded by a great support group.

“I’ve had a great advisor and some really great professors who have pushed me to make it through some of my tougher classes.”

McLeod also sees her daughter on campus. They both recently attended the PBSC and YMCA of the Palm Beaches ribbon cutting ceremony in Lake Worth. McLeod was invited because the United Way supports the YMCA and Henderson was on campus at the time.

“Even though she lives locally, she is very busy so it’s always nice when I get the chance to see her,” McLeod said.

McLeod and Henderson also say they love having the shared experience of attending the same college and continuing the family legacy.

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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