"Life is so short. You only get one chance. Grab it, shake it, get out what you can of it," says Dawn Best. After her close call with death in 2001, she appreciates the muscle of those words better than most people. Dawn moved forward from the experience a fearless, tenacious woman ready to take the world by storm.
"I want to find the people who are hurting and help them," she says of her new lease on life. "I want to find that person at Target who doesn't have enough money to pay for their stuff, and I want to leave a $50 bill behind. That's me."
Dawn was raised in a New Jersey family of motivated professionals whose mantra was something close to "Try? There is no try." Success was always the only possibility.
She came to Regent University at the age of 31 and went straight from acing her bachelor's program to earning two master's degrees there.
"It's so important for women to understand that they are capable of doing that (going back to school) at any time," she says. "I'm constantly telling women - 'Don't tell me you're too busy, can't handle it, don't think you're able. Try it!' What's the worst thing that can happen?"
This tenacity has served her well through the years. Dawn's consulting firm, GENERATE Business Development, started in a hospital elevator when an architect friend expressed his need for a new business developer and Dawn realized she could meet his needs to a tee. Today, GENERATE takes Dawn across Virginia advising military, public and private businesses.
But entrepreneurship wasn't always part of the plan. When she first came to Regent, Dawn was climbing the corporate ladder at an engineering firm. "When I started [at Regent], I was just getting my degree. It was just about the paper," she says. "My training brought out the serious business woman. I had never done a budget or a statistical analysis or trending or forecasting or contract agreements or any of that stuff."
Before Regent, Dawn was content to jump through corporate hoops to get where she wanted to go, but in working as diligently and doggedly as she always had, disappointment in the workplace turned to disillusionment, and she started thinking outside the proverbial box.
"Life has a way of tumbling you like a diamond," she says. "You're either going to shine or get destroyed."
And shine she has. Since starting her own firm in 2010, Dawn has tripled her previous salary. "That has allowed me to do even more of what God's called me to do."
Resources aside, following personal passion is something every woman can do, she says—something every woman must do.
"I can't stress enough that you have to be open to it," Dawn encourages. "You have to have a very honest transparent conversation with God and your mate and tell them about your passion. Find out what it is that will satisfy you, and fill that niche."