Lorena Marshall: chasing checks around the globe

Noah Frank

Many students know her as the one who sits behind the school bank counter, passively collecting dues for school activities and services. However, it’s a good bet that few of those students, if any, know that Lorena Marshall has lived in eight different countries throughout her life.

Marshall grew up the daughter of a U.S. diplomat. Her father’s job as a public health officer with USAID kept the Marshall family posted all around the world for the first 18 years of her life. “Most tours of duty are about two years, and we’d come on home leave back to Washington, DC for a few months, during which time we go to the State Department for our physicals and everything, and then we go back overseas,” she recalled.

Marshall’s father’s assignments included Vietnam, Nepal, Upper Volta (modern-day Burkina Faso), Chad, and Tunisia. However, for much of the time, Marshall herself was at boarding school in countries nearby to where her family was staying, such as Nigeria and Switzerland. “Because most of these countries do not have school past the eighth grade, we go to regional boarding schools within a certain radius,” she said. “Most places we’ve been were really really nice. Being in totally isolated places is where I enjoy the most.”

She had especially fond memories of her family’s time in Nepal, where they moved just after Marshall’s sister was born, and where Marshall was presented to Queen Elizabeth II. “It was very tranquil; I used to go horseback riding, and me and my horse would go out and we would just spend the day plotting around,” she said. “The people were very nice, and the food is delicious.”

While her childhood was anything but ordinary, Marshall admittedly engaged in regular youthful disobedience. “The one thing about being a diplomat’s daughter: everyone thought I was always a little princess, but I was always the one behind all the mischief that took place at school.” Unfortunately, Marshall wouldn’t give any details of her misbehavior. “Wilson students have enough mischief-making skills on their own. They don’t need my advice.”

At 18 years old, Marshall moved back to the United States, transferring to Jamestown College in North Dakota for her junior year of college. Even though she majored in art, Marshall spent numerous years after college in the finance industry, working mostly at banks and credit unions in North Dakota. It was at that point in her life that she realized her love for banking.

Seven years after graduating college, Marshall moved to DC, maintaining her position in the banking industry in banks around the city. Years later, she still holds a position where she puts her specialty in banking to use, as the school bank manager at Wilson High School.

If you’ve ever met Marshall, it isn’t hard to connect her personality with her banking prowess—she has a no-nonsense attitude. “I always end up back in the banking side of things because it’s just black and white—there’s no gray. And I don’t really have to fuss with people, it’s either you pay me or you don’t.”

Years before she came to Wilson, however, Marshall took a break from banking and entered beauty school to pursue her love for cosmetics. “Growing up, I was always the ‘make people beautiful’ girl. I would curl people’s hair, do their nails, do their makeup,” she said. After she gained her beautician’s license, Marshall landed a job on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building beauty salon, primping U.S. politicians.

She has since continued her beauty career by working for Mary Kay, a multimillion-dollar beauty consulting company, mostly advising people on their skin care. “We deal with teaching people how to take care of their skin and with cosmetics,” she said. “You have to take care of your skin first to have something to put on.” Dedicated to her work, Marshall can often be seen sporting at least one “Mary K.” pin on her lapel.