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Faculty Profile: Valarie Alston

BFS’ longtime health teacher, entrepreneur and single mom won big in Avon’s Suze Orman video contest.  

Registrar Valarie Alston can’t help smiling these days when she talks about Avon. After all she’s been selling it for over a year now, it’s brought in a few extra dollars to her household and it lets her interact with other women to help them feel better about themselves. Those might be reasons enough to make this self-described deaf single mom smile, but now there’s another reason. Earlier this month she won $10,000 from Avon and a one-on-one money makeover session with financial advisor, seven-time New York Times best selling author and TV personality Suze Orman.

“I’m so excited,” said Valarie, who teaches Lower, Middle and Upper School Health at BFS and serves as the School Registrar. She has been at the school for a decade. To enter the contest, an exclusive opportunity for Avon representatives, she made a 90-second video explaining that she started selling Avon to help her son pay for college and to buy herself a new set of hearing aids. She also explained the ways in which selling Avon has changed her life, and talked about what financial questions she would ask Suze Orman if she could meet her. “The video was done in American Sign Language with my voice in the background,” she said.

Part of the prize is also a trip to New York City for lunch and a private meeting with Suze Orman, followed by a Broadway show. For Valarie that’s a stone’s throw from her Brooklyn apartment but she’ll receive the same star treatment as the other winners from across the country. A limousine will pick her up at BFS and take her to the New York Hilton in Manhattan for a two-night stay and a taping with Orman. Is she nervous about meeting such a media superstar face to face? “Suze is phenomenal,” said Valarie. “She can be raw but she’s a financial genius.”

The story comes with another twist. Valarie’s son Kadeem, a junior at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, started selling Avon first to make extra cash, and is the one who urged his mother to partner up with him. “My money is already spent,” she said. “It’s going to Kadeem’s tuition which is a huge relief. Now all we have to worry about is next year.”

A promotional video about the winners – several who won $10,000 and one $25,000 grand prize recipient – is currently airing nationwide on several TV channels, and can also be viewed here on Youtube. Valarie’s easy to spot in her Brooklyn Friends School Athletics t-shirt, which she swears was pure coincidence. “I had just come from working out,” she said. “I had no idea.”