Footprints In The Sand: On the Path with Marjorie Belton Settles

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Marjorie walks into a room with confidence, poise and a beautiful smile.  She greets everyone like she has known you forever and leaves you feeling seen and heard.  I first met her at a Jack and Jill of America event and as we chatted, I mentioned that I was writing a book and she immediately offered to support my efforts.  I had a lot of doubts about my ability to become a successful author but when I walked away from her, I thought, “I can do this!”  This is what it means to leave Footprints in the Sand. The little things that we say and do every single day can have a lasting impact on the lives of the people that we encounter.  

I am happy to introduce, Marjorie Belton Settles.

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Marjorie is the proud mother of 2 adult sons, William Brandon Belton and Charles Wesley Belton and the very proud grandmother to one adorable grandson, Jacob William Belton.  She is a life member of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, and a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated, serving as Parliamentarian of Psi Rho Chapter (Loudoun County).  She is married to Retired Major (US Army) James E. Settles; they attend Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and reside in Potomac Falls, Virginia. 

Marjorie has had an exemplary career.  She is employed by Federal Student Aid at the Department of Education in Washington, DC.  She has the responsibility for monitoring assigned contractors who provide federal student loan repayment information and advice to federal student loan borrowers and responding to Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests on behalf of Servicing.  Prior to this she was responsible for the effective management of Sallie Mae’s Title IV loan servicing contract with the US Department of Education/Federal Student Aid.  Marjorie served as a primary liaison with FSA to ensure contract compliance and effective communications between the organizations.  She had been with Sallie Mae 13 years and held a variety of positions in Sales before joining the Servicing area.  She was previously President of Regions Education Lending, a Sallie Mae lender partner.  She began her Sallie Mae career as a Sales Representative in the southeast region.  Marjorie holds a bachelor’s degree in management and accounting from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Public Administration from The Pennsylvania State University.   


Footprints in the Sand is an interview series that explores the journey of the stars and rising stars in our community who are growing into their greatness by claiming their purpose, living a purpose-driven life and leaving impactful footprints in the sand for others to follow.  Interview by @JanetAutherine


Who has been the most influential person in your life and how has that person changed you?

My mother, a retired nurse, the best diagnostic nurse I know,  represents everything that is good in me by her nurturing and selfless example.  Also, both Grandmothers and my Godmother – they were fearless, business owners, true southern ladies with style and class, hardworking women, South Carolina elected congresswoman, creative, and great cooks and entertainers who loved feeding people – both their stomachs and their souls.  

What quote has resonated the most with you?  Or what book has had a major impact on your life and why?

    “To whom much is given, much is expected.”     

The full scripture reads…: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Luke 12:48, King James Version.  

The book that has had a major impact on my life is the national bestseller, In The Company of My Sisters, Black Women and Self-Esteem by Julia A. Boyd.  This book clearly highlights and provides real examples of positive female relationships and the importance of good girlfriends. My wish is that this generation will focus on substantive positive girlfriend relationships versus reality TV, which is not reality!  Our Atlanta book club is named in honor of this book and these great Atlanta girlfriends and I always gift the book to my new girlfriends.  

Is there any advice or life lesson that you would like to offer young women who are struggling to find their purpose and live a meaningful life?

Never ever define who you are or who you can be by your gender.  

Every young woman should have an epiphany that from the time she was a very little girl, so much of what went on in her life was directly related to her gender.   The sooner she figures this out, the sooner she will stand in her truth and become the dynamic woman that she is destined to be.     

Fear stops many of us from going after the dream that is in our hearts, how do you handle fear?

I believe you have to first acknowledge the fear and then you must dissect the fear to truly understand what you are actually afraid of.  I think most of us are afraid of the unknown.  I believe that most of us can truly overcome fear if we can convince ourselves to muster the courage to face our fears by establishing a plan of action to deal with these fears, in conjunction with effectively managing all of the priorities in your life.  Fear should not paralyze you to the point of your inability to function.    

Small steps have major impact.  What small steps are you taking daily to make a positive impact in your own life or globally?

My priorities are my health, my time and my resources.  If you do not maintain your health you will probably not succeed at anything.  After 40, it became clear to me that I would not spend time engaging in activities or interacting with people that would not yield a positive impact on my life or globally.  Even the wealthy realize that resources are limited.  To that end, I am laser focused on how I manage my finances.  Always remember that TIME IS MONEY!  These are daily small steps that may not appear to be major, however on a daily basis, they become small steps that collectively have a major impact on achieving my goals.  

Have you had any notable setbacks?  If so, how did you become resilient enough to keep going after a setback?  

Yes, I experienced a notable setback as a result of the abolishment of a successful 13 year career at a fortune 500 company. I am not a one dimensional person; therefore, this position did not define me. I took the opportunity to pause and reflect on my true skill set and how I could best identify the next opportunity that God had uniquely prepared for me.   One day, out of the blue, a scripture came to me… “Be still and know that I am GOD!” (Psalm 46:10  (NIV)).  He got you!

Name 3 things that bring you pure joy?   

    Family - The family that I was blessed to be born into, everyone who became my family through marriage, and the friends who have been like family all along the way.  

    Great Food – All of my southern soul food favorites coming from the restaurant that was a 3 generation family restaurant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.   I would love to attend chef school and own a restaurant that offered a prix fix menu of my choice from international cuisines. 

    Travel and Adventure – I love the old familiar places, as well as new places to explore all over the world.  My first international travel was a high school graduation gift from my maternal grandmother and grandparents.  This trip opened up the world to me …☺ Prior to this trip, my world was my street, my neighborhood and sometimes across town.

How do you create a positive life balance so that you are engaging in the things that bring you joy, attending to your work and family responsibilities while actively pursuing your goals and dreams?

I create a positive life balance by being very clear on my priorities, focusing and engaging in only the things that really matter and learning to say “no” without explanation.  That is being “Fully Grown”.

What footprints do you want to leave in the sand as you travel the road of life?  What steps, if any, are you taking to make an impact?  

I wish to leave a legacy of leadership and service to others, as well as a life full of examples of fun.  Whenever I am in a position to be of service to others, as quoted from a dear friend of mine – “I have always put my heart and soul into it”.

What does greatness mean to you?  

Let’s begin the discussion by addressing what greatness is not about.  Greatness is not something that you can walk around saying “I am great,” it is what others think of you, not what you think of yourself.  You get to greatness through others.  The pursuit of greatness means that you have chosen a path, set your goals and along the way recognize what you can do for others and give back.  It is what others think of you, not what you think of yourself.

We are all unique.  The skill, trait or gift that has always come naturally to your is likely what makes you unique and where your greatness lies.  Have you tapped into what makes you different from everyone else?  If so, please share what you have learned.

My gift is my ability to embrace and support everyone - your age, race, gender, ethnicity or socio- economic position in life, does not affect how I receive you, how I embrace you or how I support you.  It is not about where you came from or where you have been, but how can I help you get where you are going. 

How would you like to be remembered?  

By my loved ones: “As a woman of strength, resolve, kindness, humility, uncompromising standards and beliefs and the motto that “you can work hard and play hard” …☺  And that I have never met a martini I didn’t like …☺

By the world: That I tried to help others and lead by example.

Is there anything that has not been asked that you would like to share with the universe?

The sooner you learn and understand that it is not your business to be concerned with what others think or say about you, the happier you will be.  Always be your best self, be the person that God has destined you to be and live your best life for you.