Occupation: Director of Gifts and Grants for Maryville College
Family: Married to Tricia Bruce. They have one daughter, Sonoma
Born and raised in Los Olivos, Calif., Brandon Bruce spent his childhood and teen years working on his family’s 20-acre ranch. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he majored in political science with an emphasis in international relations. Afterwards he earned a master’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix and law degree from Concord Law School in Los Angeles.
Bruce met the girl who would become his wife during a pizza party with friends while she was earning her PhD at UCSB. “Shortly thereafter we got together at a game night. We played games with friends. She will be sure to tell you that her team won,” he says. After getting married, Brandon and Tricia lived in Washington D.C. for three years. “I did work with non-profits and lobbied on Capitol Hill, and Tricia was a research assistant professor at Georgetown,” he says. Tricia accepted a job as an assistant professor of sociology at Maryville College, so they moved to Maryville. A year later, Brandon took job at the college in the Advancement Department.
Bruce writes grants proposals and solicits gifts in support of the capital program and scholarships at Maryville College. “I write grants typically to foundations and government agencies,” he says. “A lots of the gifts we get are from alumni who know the college and like to give.”
Other gifts come from folks in the community who like college and want to support initiatives like the Clayton Center for the Arts.
Bruce says loves the natural beauty of Blount County. “I’m a cyclist, so being close to the mountains and rural roads and beauty is really important for me.”
Here is Brandon Bruce:
Who are you most like, your mother or your father and why?
“I am like both my mother and father in too many ways to count. I aspire to be as great a parent to my newborn daughter, who is 2 weeks old, as they were to me.”
What are you guilty of?
“During the Sequatchie Valley Century, my friend Jack and I passed a tanker truck at 55 mph in the fast lane on our bicycles.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My bicycle. It’s a great work out but that’s just part of it. It is where I can find peace.”
What are you reading currently?
“The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year” by Armin A. Brott and “1,000 Dollars and an Idea: Entrepreneur to Billionaire” by Sam Wyly.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Crashing over a hurdle in a middle school track and field meet. That was no good. I was supposed to win that race.”
What are the top three things on your bucket list?
“Travel the world, start and run a successful enterprise and do an Ironman Triathlon.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Tall. I’m 6’8. One of neat advantages is lots of people just start conversations with me that they might otherwise not, so I get to meet a lot of people. There are natural advantages in sports; disadvantages in things like airplane seats. A lot of things aren’t built for people who are that tall, like seats and doorframes.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“I like to be able to fit more into every day, even more so now that we have our daughter.”
What is your passion?
“Ideas - thinking about how things work and how to make improvements. There was an essay contest I entered in high school and was one of five winners from the United States and 40 from around the world. I won a trip to Japan. The essay contest asked how the Internet could be used to solve world problems, and I won talking about literacy”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“My dad, Greg Bruce, who passed away eight years ago. He was a great role model and an inspiration.”
If a movie were made about your life, who would play you and why?
“Jeff Daniels. He’s an incredibly talented actor and musician, but most importantly he’s a thoughtful guy who cares about his family and his community. He’s also tall.”
If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
“It would be fun to visit the Wright Cycle Company in Dayton, Ohio, at the turn of the 20th century to watch Orville and Wilbur Wright experiment with gliders and add power to the Wright Flyer I.”
What irritates you?
“People who text message during movies.”
What is the best present you ever received in a box?
“The card my wife gave me saying that I was going to be a great father. That’s how she told me she was pregnant.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Marry somebody you love with all your heart.”
Other than your parents, who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?
“My wife. She inspires me to do things to the best of my ability. We spend a lot of time together, and we like to spend time together.”
Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?
“I have a profile on Facebook that I update a couple times a month.”
What’s the worst job you have ever had?
“In middle school, my brother and I spent a summer repairing the fences on our 20-acre ranch. There were times we wanted to do something else, but we now appreciate the experience. It helped build character and friendship.”
What is your theme song that best describes you?
“The Power of Love,” by Huey Lewis and the News. He was the first concert I went to as a kid. My brother and I grew up listened to him. It is a great song.”
What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and why?
“Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. Every sketch was suspenseful and entertaining despite having the same ending.”
What’s one place in Blount County everyone should visit?
“The top of the closed section of the Foothills Parkway. It is only open to vehicle traffic one day a year. It’s best reached by bicycle, horseback or on foot. It’s quiet and peaceful and the views are amazing.”
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself at 18?
“Dream - it’s free.”