Deborah “Deb” Adams has had quite a life. The Army veteran and longtime information technology professional put her Saint Leo University degree to good use in her career. Now enjoying retirement, she continues to feel the influences of her Saint Leo education and its core values by making an impact on her community.

The 68-year-old was born in Bennettsville, SC and grew up in nearby Cheraw. She now resides in Chesterfield. She is the proud mom to a daughter and has four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Following in Her Parents’ Footsteps to Serve in the U.S. Army

Her parents were both veterans of World War II. Her father served in the Army, while her mother was a member of the Women’s Army Corps. A few months out of high school, Adams decided to enlist in the Army herself. She served from 1973 to 1979.

“This was around the time the Vietnam War was ending, so they were no longer drafting men into service,” Adams recalls. “They started integrating women into jobs they hadn’t had before, and we were kind of groundbreaking women. I was actually one of the first women to be assigned to an infantry division. When I look back on my life, I realize I was in a group who broke thru and integrated women into the military to help pave the way for others in the future.”

She spent six years on active duty, mostly working in technology roles. Her posts included three years in the Army Military District of Washington and another three in Heidelberg, Germany. She retired as a sergeant under the E5 designation and says she was very satisfied with the experience and how it positioned her for future higher education and career success.

“It was a great experience,” she says. “It put my life on a great track.”

Discovering Saint Leo for Higher Education

Adams found out about Saint Leo College (before it became Saint Leo University) when working in Atlanta. At the time, the school had a location on the Fort McPherson Army base.

“We knew there were educational opportunities on military bases, and the fact that the military provides financial assistance for education was big,” she says.

Adams transferred in credits from another school she had previously attended. She chose the BA in business administration, enrolling in the program around 1994. And what motivated her to select this area of study?

“I felt like whatever work I was going to do in my career, it would help to know accounting, marketing, planning, logistics, and everything that falls under what you learn in a business degree program. I wanted to be able to work comfortably in those areas.”

A Memorable Saint Leo Experience

While attending the Saint Leo education center, she enjoyed the small class sizes with individual support from her professors.

“They took time to work with you individually,” she recalls. “The classes were also very accessible being in the evening and on Saturdays. This made it much easier for me as a working mom.”

Although she majored in business administration, the religion courses she took were also impactful.

“I came from a very conservative, evangelical, Christian background,” she confides. “One requirement at Saint Leo was to take some courses in religion. Those classes really opened my spiritual path, and I began to look at things a bit differently.”

Adams completed her undergraduate degree in 1996. She would then go on to attain her MBA from Webster University at its Columbia, SC campus in 2005.

Post-Military Career in Information Technology

Throughout her post-military career, she primarily worked in information technology. Her first civilian job was with Digital Equipment Corporation, an early computer company where she worked for a few years. She then took some federal jobs with the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Transportation. The final 12 years of her career were spent at Fort Jackson, an Army training center in Columbia.

“I saw a lot of change in technology over the years,” she shares. “It’s amazing how everything is now on our phones.”

Her Journey to Practice and Teach Yoga

For stress relief and physical fitness, she started getting into yoga in the 1990s. Once again, her Saint Leo experience influenced her journey into this spiritual practice.

“If I had not been awakened to explore religion and philosophy by the classes I took at Saint Leo, I might never have come to the spiritual path of yoga. I had a detached garage at my house and turned it into a yoga studio.”

She would practice yoga daily and invite friends over to participate with her. That’s when she decided to pursue formal training to become an RYT-500, one of the top designations for yoga instructors.

“Yoga training starts with 200 hours, and teachers progress with more training to reach 500 hours.”

She briefly had a small yoga studio in Chesterfield before the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to close the business. For the past two years, she has worked for the Chesterfield Family YMCA. She teaches both men and women with a mix of working professionals and retirees. Her main focus involves instruction on traditional hatha Yoga and meditation.

“Hatha yoga is very accessible for most people,” she explains. “You just have to find what techniques work best for you and the right instructor for your specific needs.”

Her Work with a Local Wildlife Refuge Group

A photo of Deb Adams, a 1996 alumna of the Saint Leo business administration degree program, pointing at a map on Tate’s Trail which is part of the Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge

In addition to her time on the yoga mat, she is quite involved with a local wildlife refuge. She serves on the board of directors with the Friends of Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge.

“Our Friends group supports activities and the wildlife refuge,” she says. “We partner with the Boy Scouts and other organizations to help maintain the trail and refuge. We also do birdwatching, hiking, host naturalists who come speak to our group, and put on a youth fishing event.”

She encourages everyone to find local Friends groups to help support various aspects of their communities, including wildlife refuges, libraries, and other organizations.



Her Efforts to Make a Difference in Politics

To top it off, she is involved in politics, serving as the state co-lead for the South Carolina Forward Party. This new third party was spearheaded by former U.S. presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

“We are trying to bridge the partisan divide that exists,” she explains. “We want to offer people another choice with candidates whose goal is to work together. We want to bring moderates together to start talking about solutions to problems.”

The party’s goal is to start small by getting candidates into local county races. From there, she believes the possibilities are endless.

Photo credit: The photographs included in this blog article were provided by Deb Adams and are used with permission.