Alumni Feature – Colleen A. Brown, Class of 1975

Colleen A. Brown, Class of 1975

It is so interesting to see where alumni have gone and what they have accomplished since their graduation.  I wonder if we had had crystal balls 30-40 years ago, how accurate they would have been in predicting the future of many of our grads.

Colleen Brown was a 1975 graduate of our school system and has yet another remarkable life story to share with past and future alumni.  The first question we pose to our spotlighted alumnus is to describe what it was like growing up in Little Falls and what made it special and unique for them.  Colleen’s response follows:

There were times that living in LF felt boring, with very little to do.  However, I recognized, even as a young person, how nice – and unique – it was to be able to feel safe wandering around downtown and through the city parks at all hours of the night. That sense of physical safety and awareness that all the adults were watching out for all the young people (even when we didn’t want them to!) made Little Falls feel like a warm and friendly community.

I also appreciated the beauty of the mountains, the canal, the old architecture, and the agricultural landscape around LF. It instilled in me a deep love of nature and the rural life.  I still spend as much time as I can outside, and still enjoy the sights, smells, and products of local farms.  (I am very lucky to be in Vermont now where I can easily go for hikes in the mountains, walks in the woods, and shopping at farm stands.)

We all had a favorite teacher and Colleen is no exception:

I remember Mr. Crawford with fondness – He opened the world of literature to me and encouraged me to learn about the world through novels, epic poems, and essays. He introduced me to critical thinking and writing, skills that I have used and built upon for my entire life.  He also supported my application to be a Rotary Exchange Student in my junior year of high school. Deciding to be an exchange student at that time was one of the most important decisions I ever made and the experience of living in France for a year transformed my view of the world.

In sharing her educational career experiences, Colleen continues:

After graduating from LFHS I went to Colgate University where I majored in Philosophy. I had wanted to be a lawyer since I was about 12 … probably because of how impressed I was by The Perry Mason Show!  So I continued on to law school at SUNY Buffalo.  I feel LFHS prepared me well for my college and law school studies.

While attending law school, I had another inspiring teacher.  She taught the debtor-creditor and bankruptcy law courses.  As a result of my interactions with her, I developed an interest in pursuing a career in debtor-creditor transactions and bankruptcy law.  My first job out of law school was as a law clerk to a bankruptcy judge and ever since then, all of my work has focused on that area of the law.

Since 2000, I have served as the U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the District of Vermont.  I find this work extremely rewarding because most people who need and seek bankruptcy relief do so due to circumstances that have befallen them through no fault of their own.  The ultimate outcome of a bankruptcy case is relief from debts and a fresh start in life.  The work is intellectually stimulating because of the scope of issues it includes, and very rewarding because of the positive impact it makes on people’s lives.

I believe my upbringing in LF inspired me to believe we each have an obligation to take care of one another, and inspired me to pursue my current career path.

I valued growing up in a small town and as a result of that, I chose to raise my three children in small towns, first in Canandaigua, NY and then in Middlebury, VT.  I believe they benefitted from the warmth of a small town as they grew up – just as I did growing up in Little Falls.

For any of my classmates who may wonder how I am doing, I want to say how very blessed I feel. I have been married to the same wonderful person for almost 40 years; have three content, amazing and self-sustaining grown children, as well as 4 healthy and joyful grandchildren and a job that gives me great satisfaction.  I am deeply grateful for all of it.

My suggestion for current students of LFHS is that they appreciate the natural beauty and caring community around them, and enjoy life in the Mohawk Valley. LFHS taught me a love of learning that has served me well for my entire life; I hope it will do the same for them.


Chiropractor, Summit Medical Group, Berkeley Heights, NJ. Director of Alumni Communications, LFHS Alumni Network.

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