Wellcome Bryant, a very well-known educator in the Omaha Public Schools system and an activist working for the Burroughs Corporation, visited Atlanta University. Burroughs Corp. had received a federal grant to open the Women’s Job Corp. Center in Omaha, Nebraska. The Center was a vocational program geared toward young women, ages 16–21, to prepare them for future careers. Bryant was working with the Center and Omaha Public Schools to recruit minorities from southern Black institutions to work for either the public schools or the Women’s Job Corp.
Mary and another graduate student from Atlanta University accepted Bryant’s offer and moved to Omaha on June 7, 1965. They moved into the Paxton and Regis hotels, located in downtown Omaha, which were home to approximately 900 young women in a dorm-like atmosphere. Speaking of that experience, Mary says that “it was like having a college campus, like having two University Villages [the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s (UNO) campus housing] downtown, with all the traffic going between them and all the people walking.”
As part of the Women’s Job Corp., Mary was hired as a resident advisor. Soon after, she became a supervisory counselor because she was almost finished with her master’s degree. This advancement put her in charge of the rest of the resident advisors, staffing, and training, and it also helped prepare her for her future career in administration at UNO.
On June 30, 1969, the Women’s Job Corp. closed its doors, mainly due to opposition from local businessmen working in the downtown area. As this opportunity ended for Mary, another emerged. She was hired by UNO in September of that year as a counselor and instructor for undecided and undeclared students. Not even ten years later, in 1977, she became the Director of New Student Orientation, a position that she held until 1981.