INSIDE CHATHAM: Bookstore Manager Tioni Brown On Work, School and Family

Tioni Brown, pictured, poses outside of the Chatham bookstore
Photo: Edymar Hurtado

Author: Edymar Hurtado

“Inside Chatham” is a new series in which you will find an interesting member of the community that shares Chatham with you.

We want to showcase awesome people, but most of all, we want to share good stories. Let us know if you know a fantastic member of the Chatham family that we should interview!

Most students have had to stop by the Chatham Bookstore, whether to find some books, supplies, snacks or any number of other things. If so, they’ve met Tioni Brown, the enthusiastic and busy woman who has managed the bookstore since 2010.

Brown, a senior majoring in accounting, was born and raised in Pittsburgh and lives here with her husband, son and daughter. She studied at Oliver High School in Northside. She was a cheerleader there, but said that she always wanted to study accounting.

She achieved an associate degree in that major at Duff’s Business Institute and Kaplan Career Institute; she decided to transfer and complete her studies at Chatham University in 2008.

Studying while taking care of a family is already a tough task, but Brown thrives while adding one more thing to the list: managing the Chatham Bookstore.

“The first years were awesome! I love my work here and I love to meet new kids each semester,” she said. But even though everything was fine between her life and her studies, she faced a difficult moment when she failed her internship. “I think that’s my worst experience at Chatham,” she said. “ I couldn’t believe it!”

Failing a class is something that could happen to anyone, and it’s more common than one might  think. Shannon Brenner, Coordinator of the PACE center said that most of the time students fail due to lack of organization, whether they have too many things to do or they just don’t know how to handle lots of responsibilities.

During this hard time, Brown had lots of support from her husband and her family. She’s currently finishing her last semester, and will receive her degree next year.

“I think that the most important value that students may have is determination,” she said. “That’s what helped me get to here, and that’s what will always make you go through everything.”

Students who’ve met Brown can attest to her enthusiasm and kindness. Skylar Houck, a first-year English major, said “She’s always really nice when I go to the store; you feel like she’s really interested in you and that she really does care.”

An usual day for Tioni involves walking her two dogs, making breakfast, and working on campus until 6 p.m. “Right now I’m not studying, but when I was doing it, it was very convenient for me to work here, since all my night classes started at 6:30 p.m.,” she said.

When asked for a word or a phrase that defines her, she said “love, peace and hair grease… Oh, and puppy lover!” She believes that a good attitude makes a good life, and she definately shows that to her clients everyday by treating everyone with respect.

By taking care of her family, studying, working and connecting with the Chatham community, all this with a big smile on her face, Tioni Brown proves there’s nothing that can stop her.

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