Ronna Timpa ’89 (HR) is a successful entrepreneur with the desire to improve lives. The founder of Workplace ESL Solutions, Timpa’s company offers corporate language training that equips entry level foreign born workers with specific workplace English so they can effectively communicate with co-workers, supervisors and most importantly, customers.

After graduation from Illinois State University (ISU)  Timpa took a traditional position in HR. While providing training to hotel employees she was asked to teach housekeepers English and that experience changed her life. “I fell in love with these people and knew I wanted to keep working with them,” said Timpa.

“The housekeepers came to the company with a strong skill set. They included doctors, lawyers, accountants, secretaries, hair dressers, but because of their lack of English, they were unable to pursue their dream jobs here in the US,” she explained. “My dad told me to find a career that when you wake up in the morning you would be excited about the rest of the day. Well, I found it!”

At age 23, Ronna quit her job in HR, moved back in with her parents and earned her master’s degree in teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). For the next decade Timpa taught two ESL classes each semester at the University of Nevada Las Vegas and managed a ESL program for refugees at Catholic Charities. During this busy time she also launched Workplace ESL Solutions. Today this author, entrepreneur and Illinois State University graduate employs 15 teachers in three states and has a flexible lifestyle she loves.

Although she didn’t plan to be an entrepreneur, it is a career path Timpa feels business students should consider.

“Make sure you have the skill set to go that route. There is no paycheck every two weeks, and at the beginning you have to do everything yourself. But I now have a plan that makes sense and allows me to have the quality of life that fulfills me. We only have one go around in this life, so if you want to try it, go for it!””

Did Illinois State University help prepare Timpa for career success? Absolutely! “Dale Fitzgibbons was instrumental in teaching me key business skills I use to this day – especially the need to have a questioning attitude and the importance of writing and speaking well,” explained Timpa.

To learn more about Workplace ESL visit