Mentor, student, insurance professional and business owner: The story of Theresa Bell

Theresa Bell grew up in Detroit, Michigan, knowing one day she would own her own business.

After graduating from high school, Bell’s path led her to various business and independent contractor opportunities while also working full-time in corporate America in lieu of attending college.

“I always had a desire to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but I could not figure out how school could ever fit into my already busy lifestyle and schedule,” she said.

Bell enlisted in the Army National Guard, where she not only kept working full-time but also served the country for eight years. She also earned an insurance license and Series 6 and 63 securities licenses allowing her to sell life insurance and mutual funds.

In addition to working full time, Bell is the wife of Pastor Randy Bell, of 28 years. “I am also a ministry leader at our church of 21 years, serving over the choir, assisting on the community outreach ministry, prayer team, led the women’s ministry and handled all graphic design work,” Bell said.

After enlisting in the military, Bell was hired as a full-time employee for MetLife, one of the largest global providers of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs. She later became a supervisor, leading a team of up to 23 associates. While as a supervisor, approximately seven years ago, Bell was traveling via airplane to visit her family in Arkansas. On her flight she saw a magazine advertisement for NAU’s Personalized Learning program.

“As soon as I read it, I knew this was my opportunity to go to school because of what the article said, ‘Accredited Bachelor’s Degree program in Small Business Administration (SBA), work at your own pace and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation sowed $1M in NAU to create the program,’ basically for busy people just like me,” Bell said. “Literally, as soon as I landed and arrived at our family’s home in Arkansas, I called the school to inquire about the program and I began the process of being accepted into the program.”

Bell was soon accepted into the SBA program and was excited to pursue a degree in a program that pushed her closer to her childhood dream of owning her own business.

“It is hard to admit that I started the program approximately 7-plus years ago, but my life has taken many turns over the years,” Bell said. “I am still determined to finish, and I am finally in the home stretch.”

Bell, who now lives in Pontiac, Michigan, has reached 29 years of service at MetLife and is working as a senior training consultant, where she is responsible for creating training videos and podcasts as well as handling the coordination for approximately 100-plus training calls each year.

While working full-time, Bell has progressed through the SBA program, where she has learned about the different types of business entities, the process of setting up a business, where to obtain funding and how to create and understand business documents.

“I was thrilled to learn about the various elements of starting and running a small business and I wanted to jump right in and start one,” she said. “However, I wanted to first identify what I would be most passionate about, what experiences, gifts or talents I could utilize and a sustainable business model.”

As a result, Bell launched her first LLC on Thanksgiving 2021. Bell’s company is named Truejoy Unlimited LLC, which is an ecommerce store that sells women’s apparel and accessories that she designs.

“Our mission is to empower and inspire women and girls to gain and maintain joy, live our best life and be the best version of ourselves,” she said. “It’s been five months since I launched my store, and it has been a wonderful and challenging journey, but I am so glad I did it.”

On top of Bell’s already incredibly busy schedule, she acts as a mentor to others at work and in her community by hosting several women’s empowerment and domestic violence awareness conferences at her local church. Bell and her church’s community outreach team also hosted back-to-school rallies providing hundreds of backpacks, school supplies and food to their community two years in a row.

“As you can see, I have an extremely busy, amazing and robust life, therefore, Personalized Learning has tremendously helped me work towards obtaining my degree at my own pace, while still doing my life’s work through my church, business, community and my career at MetLife, Bell said. “I truly believe it was a miracle and my season to attend school when I saw the article while on the plane.”

Northern Arizona University LogoCarsen Jones | NAU Communications

NAU Communications