Alumni Relations

Mary Popovich Gerding


Mary Popovich Gerding 

B.A. English '89 , 
Master of Liberal Studies '15 

Mary Popovich, a graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne and Carroll High School, currently works at the Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center as a Business Advisor/Marketing Coordinator.  She is trained to counsel small businesses in matters of strategic planning, financial analysis, marketing, funding and business plan development.

Q. How did you become interested in your field?

A. It started with serving as editor of my high school newspaper at Carroll and then subsequently working as summer editor for a local small-town newspaper, co-editor of The Communicator at IPFW, and on the staff of the Indiana Daily Student in Bloomington. After finally achieving my bachelor's degree from IPFW in 1989, my career took a slightly different path, leading me to serve as a marketing specialist for a local home builder for seven years. This subsequently led to a position with the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, where I was in charge of marketing and communications for 10 years, most recently serving as vice president of communications. From there I sought new challenges and in 2007 began assisting the Northeast ISBDC with its marketing efforts, which led to my also helping clients start and grow their small businesses through marketing assistance, market research, and basic start-up information. I also operated a small public relations business out of my home for a few years, serving not-for-profits and small businesses who needed help along those lines; assisted the IPFW Division of Continuing Studies with its marketing efforts; and achieved a master's degree from IPFW in 2015. My current work with small business clients is very rewarding!


Q. What course(s) have you found to be most valuable in your professional life?

A. Writing and journalism courses at IPFW and I.U. Bloomington, and an undergraduate accounting class that I took in 2010 to help me understand financials for the benefit of my small business clients.  

Q. How has your degree been beneficial to you and your career?    

A. My degrees equipped me with a lot of skills that I have been able to apply in the business world -- professional writing, academic research, presentation skills and project management. My years at IPFW, coupled with my 10 years at the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, also provided great connections that have been invaluable.

Q. What is the best career advice you were given?

A. Two pieces of advice were especially beneficial. A counselor from IPFW told me years ago, when I was contemplating dropping out of school, that getting a college degree was the best thing I could do for myself and my future career. Well, I did drop out of school for a while to raise a family, but I made a point of returning to IPFW and finishing my degree (and even getting a master's degree later on). The second piece of advice came from my mother. There were times in my career that I did not feel especially confident, and my mother told me to "Fake it until you make it!" Every time I have a moment of insecurity, as most people do sometime in their career, that phrase pops into my head and I overcome whatever fears I might have had. 

Q. Was there anyone during your time at IPFW who acted as a mentor to you? If so, tell us about the relationship.    

A. No one individual in particular stands out, but I did receive a lot of encouragement from several of my English professors and from some of the professors teaching my master's-level courses that made me believe in myself and my abilities as a writer.

Q. What course(s) have you found to be most valuable in your professional life?    

A. Writing and journalism courses at IPFW and I.U. Bloomington, and an undergraduate accounting class that I took in 2010 to help me understand financials for the benefit of my small business clients.

Q. What would be your advice to someone who is considering IPFW (either as a new student or a returning adult)?

A. IPFW is a great school. You get more personalized attention than you would at some of the larger universities, and for those who live in Northeast Indiana, it's closer to home and allows you to live and work and go to school all at the same time.

Q. What advice would you give to current IPFW students?    

A. Become involved in some activity that will help you become acquainted with more people. When I first started college, I worked on The Communicator and made a lot of friends through it.

Q. Do you have a favorite and/or funny story about your time at IPFW?    

A. Too many to mention. When I started at IPFW it was a one-building school that many called "Bypass High School," and over the years I have seen the campus grow to what it is today. I helped walk books from Kettler Hall to the new library when it opened up, which was a great memory. Walking around the campus today I am excited to see what IPFW has become! 

Q. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments, both personally and professionally?    

A. That I have been able to work in careers that allowed me to use my creativity and that made a difference in the community and/or with small business owners. Where do you hope to be in ten years?    Retired and volunteering in the community. I also received a state-wide award at the Indiana Small Business Development Center’s annual meeting.  I was recognized for having achieved the “Most Counseling Hours” in 2016 from among all NE-ISBDC business advisors in the state (more than 1,000 client counseling hours in 2016).

Q. How would you like to be remembered?    

A. As someone who cares.