JBU’s first lady at a glance

February 27, 2014
Colleen Cornett, Photography by Daniel Madrid

A garbage worker, world traveler, bridal consultant, college cheerleader, mother of four and a wife; Carey Pollard has done it all. Now, she is the first lady of John Brown University, a role that she didn’t anticipate, but that she loves nonetheless. Though that role is what she is known best for by her peers today, Carey Pollard has had far more humorous, exciting and bizarre experiences than most people would ever know before taking a deeper look.

In junior high, Carey met her future husband, Chip Pollard, who she would begin to date exclusively during her sophomore year of high school.

Awhile after closing the door on the idea of dating anyone other than Chip, she anticipated a proposal approaching. One night, the couple went on a romantic date that Carey was sure would hold the moment she anticipated...

“He took me to a fancy dinner, it was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “But he didn’t propose. I was kind of disappointed.”

After leaving the restaurant, however, he took her on a drive forever engraved in her memory.

“He drove me by the school where we first met and then took me on a drive down memory lane,” she said. “The drive ended at the church I grew up in, and he asked me if I would meet him back there in a year and be his wife. It was very sweet.”

The two were wed around Christmas of their junior year of college.

Prior to marriage, Carey had various jobs and duties.

“I worked for a garbage company one summer,” she said. “We would go out and check the routes at 4:30 in the morning before the trucks. It was a lot of fun!”

Once married, she began working at Marshall Fields, a large department store, part-time during the school year and full-time in the summers.

While studying art at Wheaton College, Carey showed her school spirit as a member of the Wheaton Cheer Squad, which she lettered in after four years. Her husband wasn’t crazy about the idea, but was supportive of her nonetheless.

“Chip was so embarrassed, but he let me do it anyway because he’s very sweet and loving and I wanted to do it,” Carey said.

Post-graduation, the young couple moved to Boston after her husband was accepted to Harvard University. There, Carey worked as a bridal consultant at Laura Ashley until she became pregnant with her first child, Chad.

“I sewed a lot at that point,” she said. “I had my business cards at Laura Ashley, so I would do wedding alterations while Chad was crawling around, which was great!”

The next step in President Pollard’s career led the family to live in England, where Carey gave birth to her second child, Ben, who passed away in 2011. The stay-at-home mom and her two sons were restricted to using the bus as their means of transportation after she lost her license.

“My license had expired in the US, so I applied for a British license, which is extremely difficult to pass even if you’re British,” Carey said. “It was a stick-shift car, and the rules of the road are a little different there, and I failed. I was too embarrassed to take it again, so I would just load the stroller and kids on the bus. It worked!”

A few years later, the family returned to the states and continued to travel and relocate, expanding their clan with the addition of two more children, Emma and James.

Carey was willing to move her family around the world in order for her husband to achieve his goals, which she understands is something not every wife and mother would be comfortable with.

“I never saw it as a sacrifice,” she said. “I enjoyed the adventure of moving around.”

Emma Pollard, the only daughter in the family, feels that regardless of how often they moved, her mother always made the transition easier.

“My mom could make any place feel like home, even when we lived in a two-bedroom flat in England, and I had to share a closet-sized room with my three brothers,” Emma Pollard said. “I don’t see my mom as a wife who merely followed her husband around the world. I see an adventurous woman ready for any curveball sent her way. I’m proud to be her daughter.”

Carey’s niece, Abby Burdett, a sophomore at John Brown University, has grown very close to the Pollard side of her family over the years. She sees her aunt as an optimistic person.

“She has always been upbeat and positive about moving around so much for my uncle. She’s always been so supportive of him, and I admire that in her.”

Spending the majority of motherhood as a stay-at-home mom, Carey believes that there must be agreements and compromises made in marriage in order to do what is best for the future.

“As a couple you have to decide whose career will take priority,” she advises. “You’ll end up in a hard place if you don’t communicate about that and make agreements with each other from the beginning.”

Now 21, Emma is thankful for the role her mother has played throughout the years.

“I don’t doubt that she could have done some amazing career in her life, but she put all of her talent and energy into being a mother, and I am eternally grateful for that,” she said.

The Pollards have lived in Siloam Springs, Ark., for 10 years now, the longest they have stayed in one place since marriage. As for what’s next for her family, Carey said the future is uncertain.

“We have always left our lives in the hands of the Lord,” Carey said.

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