Julie Brown Class of ’93: Back to Elmhurst and Back to School


Photo by CeCe Lampa

Brown sporting her York Varsity Soccer Jacket over 20 years after her graduation

After fifteen long years of travel, fun, and experiencing college, marriage,  and the birth of her children, Julie Brown, previously Julie Stern, returned to Elmhurst, with many new additions and changes in her life. Now, only living a few blocks away from the school she once attended, she is able to reflect on how her life is changed since she exited York Community High School in her cap and gown.

She doesn’t remember being the most outgoing teen but was definitely a student who wanted the most from high school.

“I was quiet in high school, I was involved in things,” Brown said. “I played sports, but I played sports more to be involved in them because I wasn’t really an athletic person. I ran track, I played soccer, and I played tennis; but it really was just to do something and be involved. I was not a star on any of them.”

Not only was she a member of various sports teams, she was also a peer tutor in the club SADD, Student Against Drunk Driving, and a part of the National Honors Society. These would all be great additions to her application to her future college, the University of Illinois.

Photo Courtesy of Julie Brown
Brown, third row, second from the right, in a yearbook photo from 1992 for the club SADD, Students Against Drunk Driving

She initially went to the university for general education, but soon narrowed it down and earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, a choice that a lot of her peers seemed to be making.

“Most of the people that I graduated with that were in the same program either ended up getting their master’s degree in that field or are working in a totally different field because it’s hard to do much of anything with a bachelor’s degree in psychology,” Brown said. “But because I lived up in Alaska and resources are a bit thinner up there, I was able to do group and individual counseling.”

Alaska was not an ideal choice, but was great for her because she “really wanted to move away from Elmhurst” and that was as far as she could get in the United States. However, nobody could’ve guessed that Alaska would be the place she’d meet her husband.

Photo Courtesy of Julie Brown
1993 York Graduation, Brown and her friends excited to begin the next chapter of their lives.

“I worked at a shelter for women and children who had experienced domestic violence, and he was in the Army and had some friends in the Army who wanted to get involved in big brothers; but, because they were deployed so often, they wouldn’t match them up with somebody, so instead they came and volunteered at our shelter.”

After she met her soon to be husband James, Brown began a long, outdoor excursion across the United States, hoping to find the right place to start their life together.

“We left Alaska and didn’t even know where we were going to go,” Brown said. “We knew we wanted to camp and travel across the U.S. for a while, and we both interviewed for jobs as we were traveling across the U.S. We traveled around for about three months, and then we moved to New York and got our first house.”

Photo Courtesy of Julie Brown
Brown and her husband sharing a slice of cake on their wedding night. Brown bought the cake not for the look, but because of the amazing taste.

After that, Julie and James Brown began moving across the country for Mr. Brown’s job, living in places like New Jersey, Michigan, and Georgia. After having four kids, they realized that it was time to find a place to settle down.

“We knew this was a good area to raise kids,” Brown said. “York has amazing things to offer, certainly a lot more than when I went to York, but just having family here and knowing that we didn’t want to keep moving around, but we wanted to settle in with our kids.”

Photo Courtesy of Julie Brown
Brown and her daughter, freshman Maddie Brown, who is wearing her sunglasses despite the fact they are indoors.

When she moved back, one of the strange things she noticed about the town was seeing people from her graduating class and realizing that a lot of people never left.

“What’s weird is that there are so many people that still live here that went to York,” Brown said.  “I keep in touch with some of them. I mean not all of them because we all went different ways, but I still definitely have high school friends. Most of the ones that I keep in touch with are still here.”

Once she knew that they had truly settled down, she began reconsidering one of her lifelong dreams, which was becoming a midwife. She was first exposed to this amazing profession during her senior year at York.

“When I was a senior at York they started a medical careers class; we were the first class to do it, and during that class, we rotated through different medical areas. I remember going to the Courts for Cardiac Rehab.”

Though she was intrigued by many different aspects of the class, the most life-changing for her was their visit to the delivery section of the hospital.

“One of the areas that we did in the hospital was labor and delivery, and I was able to witness a couple of births while I was there,” Brown said.  “I remember I was in the room with one of my good friends still today, and we both looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was pretty amazing as a high school student to be able to witness that.”

Four years later, right before her college graduation, Brown created a list of her life dreams and becoming a midwife had definitely become a priority. She didn’t know when but knew it would happen.

“It took me twenty years to get back to it, but here I am,” Brown said.

Her daughter, freshman Maddie Brown, has been inspired by her mother and is considering becoming a midwife herself.

“I took a career test in Orientation, and the first career suggestion was to become a midwife,” Brown said.

For students like Maddie, Mrs. Brown would highly recommend becoming a midwife, especially people who are passionate about women’s health. She really believes that as long as you find a place, and a job where you find joy, there will be success in your life, just like she did when becoming a midwife.

“I think that what you need to do is find something that you really love and you are passionate about, so someone that really loves working with women and providing healthcare to women,” Brown said. “It has to be something that makes you excited every day when you go to work rather than just doing something that’s a job.”

Photo Courtesy of Julie Brown
Brown and her family at her nursing school graduation at the University of Illinois at Chicago