5 Things I've Learned: Wendy Merrill
Friday, October 14, 2022
Wendy Merrill, ’22 MBA, serves as a district representative on the elected tribal council of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Before this, she was the assistant general manager of Grand Casino Mille Lacs. This year, she was named a 40 under 40 awardee by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. Wendy is married to her husband, Carlos Merrill. They have three children together and are raising three nieces and two nephews.
1. Say "I love you" more.
In April 2020, my dad suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, passing away at the young age of 53. Just 19 months later, my mom passed from natural causes. I believe she died of a broken heart. At the time, my parents were taking care of my nephew, Landon, who was fighting blood cancer. After my mom’s death, my husband and I took over guardianship of him. These hardships have made me realize that you should live life to the fullest and understand that life is short—say “I love you” more often.
2. Listen without interrupting.
Being a good listener is something that is not easy for everyone. I have learned to give people my full attention to simply hear them out. You may be the only person that day who is willing to listen. To me, it shows that you are not only giving them your attention but showing respect to the person who trusts you.
3. College looks different for everyone.
What’s my story? It starts when I was 17 and pregnant with my oldest son. I defied the odds by 1) being a teen mom, 2) being a high school dropout, and 3) being Native American. Despite everything stacked against me, I obtained my GED at 18 and started college at 21. I would go on to receive an Associates degree from Central Lakes College, a Bachelor’s from the College of St. Scholastica, a Masters of Tribal Administration and Governance from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and most recently an MBA from the Carlson School of Management. I believe education is important—but our paths may be different.
4. Surround yourself with positive people.
Find people in your life that are willing to support you, grow with you, understand you, give you honest advice and be there to support you when you need it. You must be willing to do the same for them as well. Build relationships that will last a lifetime.
5. Being a mentor is important.
Let me tell you about Sherraine, age 23. Like me, she’s gone through hardships. She lost her mom in 2020 and is taking care of her five younger siblings, all while working. She often tells me she looks up to me, but I look up to her for being such a strong, caring, young woman. Being a positive role model is not only important to her but important to all the kids in my community. They are looking for someone, who is like them, who can get through it with support. Treating others with kindness goes such a long way because you have no idea what they may be going through.
This article appeared in the Fall 2022 alumni magazine
Transitions present a time for celebration and reflection.
The Carlson School looks at past and present initiatives with an eye toward the future.