Addie Price Mathes '78
Now: CEO and President of Prime Power Services, Inc.
Tell us about what you're doing now and how your Agnes Scott education has shaped who you have become.
I began working with Roger Bisher, the late founder of Prime Power, in 1987. Together, Roger and I built the company from a two-person, mom-and-pop shop to the 60-employee, multi-state business it is today. When we began working, we specialized in manufacturing switchgears for emergency back-up power generation systems. As an Agnes Scott history major and recently divorced mother of two young boys, survival was my primary motivation. I knew nothing of the male-dominated power generation industry, but with the critical thinking skills I acquired through my Agnes Scott liberal arts degree, I learned the principles of the trade quickly and accepted the risk of entrepreneurship as a good challenge and opportunity. I saw an opportunity to provide for my boys through professional achievement while also being the good mother I always wanted to be.
What has a woman's college education meant to you?
Agnes Scott teaches young women how to think, not simply how to memorize enough knowledge to pass an exam or even the mastery of a trade or skill. The foundation of independent critical thinking skills that I gained from the small class settings at Agnes Scott gave me the confidence to accept personal and professional risks with certainty and resolve. My life goal was to be a mother. With the education I earned from Agnes Scott, I was able to see opportunity through the challenges of divorce and young motherhood and achieve both my professional and personal goals. The women’s college experience allowed me to grow as an independent strategic thinker and eventually set me up for success in the business world. Agnes Scott taught me how to set goals, know my limitations, establish timelines and execute.
Tell us about a memorable Agnes Scott experience.
One year toward the end of the semester, my French professor invited his whole class of about 10 students to his home for dinner. The assignment for the class was to write and perform a play entirely in French for him and his wife—they were to provide the dinner. I played a little old lady and Janet Kelly Jobe '78 played the part of a beauty queen. We all had such a great time together at our professor’s home having dinner and laughing at each other performing a play in French that I don’t even remember if the language was spoken correctly. I’ll never forget our professor interjecting corrections to our French as we performed the play and all of us dying laughing and having a good time together. While I was personally not very good at French, I hold that evening as one of my fondest memories of Agnes Scott for the friendship, camaraderie and opportunity for education through interacting with the professors in social settings.
What advice do you have for an ASC student?
My advice for Agnes Scott students is to take advantage of the small classes and relationships you can develop with the professors to be the best student you can be. In my experience, the professors were always available, in or out of class, to challenge me and to help me understand the subjects more thoroughly. Take the time to interact with your peers and professors in social settings and allow your thought processes and viewpoints to be challenged and grow. This may be the only time in your life when your sole job and responsibility is to learn. Take advantage of the opportunities to ask questions, think independently and hold leadership roles. Gain the experience there on campus and you will set yourself up for success in future endeavors.