Brownlows pass on the purple gene


Brian Brownlow and daughter Taylor Brownlow don their Winona State University gear.

Jordan Gerard/ Winonan

It’s not too often students can say they are the fifth generation of their family to attend Winona State University, but Taylor Brownlow will be able to say this next fall.

Brian Brownlow, her father and the most recent family graduate of Winona State, graduated in 1989 with a degree in computer science and now works at Mayo Clinic in Rochester as a Senior Analyst Programmer. He decided to attend Winona State because of the software testing lab’s affiliation with IBM.

After he graduated, he got a job with IBM, which was exactly what he wanted, Brian said.

“I got a good education at a price I could afford and ended up with the job I wanted,” Brian said.

Since his time at Winona State, Brian has helped several computer science interns get internships at IBM and Mayo Clinic.

Taylor will be entering as a sophomore in the fall, majoring in biochemistry.

“Family tradition was probably the most important consideration,” Brian said. “Her grandmother and I always talked up WSU.”

A few of Taylor’s cousins from her mother’s side are already attending Winona State.

“It’s small and in the country,” Brian said. “It’s reasonably priced. We’ve been able to get decent jobs in our fields with our degrees earned at WSU. It’s also pretty.”

Coincidentally, this is the second Winonan article to be written about the Brownlow family. Both sides of Brownlow’s family have attended Winona State.

Three family members earned teaching degrees.

Brian’s mother, Shirlie Brownlow, attended Winona Teacher’s College from 1953-1957 and taught in Albert Lea, Minn. for 30 years.

Luceille (Carson) Marburger, Brian’s maternal grandmother, also attended Winona Teacher’s College in 1917 and taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Spring Valley, Minn.

Cyril Amundson, Brian’s great uncle, graduated in 1928 with a teaching degree and taught science at Worthington High School in Worthington, Minn.

The first family member to attend Winona State was Henry Amundson, Brian’s great grandfather. He took bookkeeping classes and became a shopkeeper in Whitehall, Wis.

A lot has changed at Winona State since Amundson attended classes here. The university was originally called “Winona Normal School,” from 1873-1921, and they taught students how to become teachers.

The next title was “Winona Teacher’s College,” until 1957, and finally in 1975, the name changed to “Winona State University.”

When asked about the changes to the school such as the laptop program and new teacher education program, Brian said they were positive.

Brian said he believes Taylor will like Winona State and hopes her children will consider Winona State as well.