Sister Schubert encourages

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 12, 2000

Girls State participants


Staff Writer

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Delegates to Alabama Girls State ended their first full day with minds full of information.

For the second year, Troy State University has played host for the annual event that is a leadership and citizenship training program for young women sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary, and one of the area’s entrepreneurs spoke to the girls Monday morning.

Patricia Barnes, better known as Sister Schubert, said she was honored to have the opportunity to speak to a group of high school girls who will be tomorrow’s leaders.

The founder of Sister Schubert’s Homemade Rolls made her way in the business world using her grandmother’s recipe for yeast rolls, encouragement and the desire to succeed.

"I’m not a politician, but I think of myself as an entrepreneur," Barnes told the more than 300 Girls State delegates gathered in the Claudia Crosby Theater.

"To me, an entrepreneur is a leader who takes off on a different, but potentially rewarding job."

While most of the Girls State speakers will be those involved in the world of politics, Barnes offered another look into what it takes to be a successful leader.

She told delegates they will walk away from the week-long experience with a better understanding of not only the political process, but of leadership skills that will help them in their personal and professional lives.

"I made up my mind to try," said Barnes, whose products are now sold in over 10,000 grocery stores nationwide.

Her success story started right here in Troy. She and some helpers began making rolls and first sold them from Ingram’s Curb Market. Four cooks mixed dough in the kitchen, cooked rolls on the sun porch, packaged them on the dining room table and stored ingrediants in the living room.

"My house was a mess," Barnes said of those early days in business.

Soon, the business had outgrown her house. She got a loan and, in August 1992, opened her first bakery in downtown Troy.

During those years, Barnes learned about marketing, packaging, trucking and other aspects of business.

In 1994, she opened a much larger bakery in Luverne, which she said was "an affirmation of my vision."

Four years later, more was added to the Luverne bakery and, now, those rolls made using her grandmother’s recipe can be found on dinner tables all over the nation.

"It’s been a fantastic life for me," Barnes told delegates to Girls State. "Everyday, I am grateful to the many people who helped me and believed in me over the years.

"My heart and soul is in this company," Barnes said, adding her grandmother’s reputation as a "great cook" is also a big part of the company’s success.

"I know it would make her happy to know people all over America are eating her rolls," Barnes said of the grandmother who inspired the creation of a successful company.

Standing before a crowd of girls who just finished their junior year in high school, Barnes offered a challenge ­ "Go out there and find your niche and fill it.

"I believe there is nothing standing in your way. Believe that you can do it. Believe in yourself and others will believe in you."

Barnes also said she is fortunate to be able to find success from her first love ­ cooking.

Also on Monday, delegates heard from political analyst Bob Ingram, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and State Treasurer Lucy Baxley. Other speakers during the week will include:

Attorney General Bill Pryor, State Auditor Susan Parker, Alabama Supreme Court Justices Jean Brown and Lynn Stuart and Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sue Bell Cobb.

During the week, delegates will be divided into cities and counties and elect local officials, said Lee Sellers of Montgomery, director of this year’s session. The students also serve as senators and representatives, debating bills and proposing solutions to problems facing elected officials.

The highlight of the week is the election of the governor of Girls State and other constitutional officers, Sellers said.

Although the Girls State delegates will be divided into the Nationalist and Federalist parties, they will learn more about Alabama’s two-party system from Betty Fine Collins, Alabama’s National Committeewoman for the Republican Party, and Elizabeth North, a nationally-recognized Democratic activist.

Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman will also speak to the delegates when they make a trip to Montgomery on the final day. On Friday, the entire group will tour the Capitol, have their fourth legislative session in the House and Senate Chambers and visit with "counterparts" who work in different aspects of state government.

But, the week-long event is not work and no play.

During the week, the girls, who just finished their junior year in high school, will make time for a little fun. They will have Skit Night, field games and a Coke and Karaoke Party hosted by TSU.

This year marks the second year that Troy State University has played host to Girls State. TSU is only the second institution in the 51-year history of the event to serve as host.