Beverly Kievman Copen’s (ABJ ‘58) life has been defined by choice. Choosing to be bold, choosing to step away and choosing the path that led her to a successful 60+ year-long career as an entrepreneur, photographer, speaker, author and a true trailblazer for women in the professional space.
Copen’s first big choice came when she was 19 years old, transferring to UGA from Rollins College two years into her college career.
“I must’ve had an instinct that I liked doing PR things or doing publicity or doing writing, even at that early age,” Copen said. “I knew that Rollins did not have journalism at that time. It was literally about three weeks before school started that I got into UGA.”
After graduating from Grady with a degree in journalism, Copen quickly stepped into the role of entrepreneur, founding Atlanta Models and Talent with no prior business education.
“When I was offered the business, I said, ‘why not?’ so I gave the previous owner $1 and changed the name to Atlanta Models and Talent, and started thinking about what was logical that I needed to do, because I’ve never had a class in business or things of that nature,” she said. “It was really an experiment in logic.”
Her experience in entrepreneurship then led to a thriving speaking career that has not only taken Copen across the globe to countries like New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Malaysia, but also to become a published author. Her first book, “Today’s SalesWoman,” is a workbook for women in business.
Copen’s newest book “It’s Your Life, Isn’t It,” was first published in Japan in 2000 and centers around the power of choice in life, especially when that life seems out of control. Copen pulls examples from her own life and the experiences of others to help readers navigate life’s many changes. A passage from the book reads:
“We can choose to be negative, or we can choose to be positive, we can choose to be angry, or we can choose to be peaceful… We can lash out and say why me or we can reach out and help someone else…We need to let go of the ones not in our control and take action on the ones that are the power of choice is in your attitude. Life is too short, precarious and fragile. Your attitude is the one ingredient that will turn around your day, your week and your life. That is your choice. Yours alone.”
The book was updated and published in both English and Spanish in 2021 to reflect a more global—and post-COVID-19 pandemic—outlook on the themes of choice and change.
Copen hopes the new version of “It’s Your Life, Isn’t It?” can help people of all ages, especially college students, navigate the important choices they will inevitably face. Her biggest piece of wisdom to impart: don’t be afraid to go for it.
“It’s the time to reimagine what you want,” she said. “Don’t forget to ask for what you want, and don’t forget to figure out how to get it done.”
That exact mindset allowed Copen to realize such milestones as graduating at only 20 years old, becoming a successful business owner, helping bring the film industry to Georgia and even conversing with the former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
“You can plant a little seed of something where you see it going in,” Copen said. “You just have to watch it and make sure it gets enough water.”
Copen continues planting seeds in Rome, Georgia, through her multi-genre writing, award-winning photography and community involvement. And with no signs of slowing, there will be more remarkable choices in the years to come.