For Julie Nation, picking Santa Rosa over Hollywood the right choice

The clock was ticking as Julie Nation, at the time a 27-year-old divorced mother of four, chose between two dramatically different career paths.

One led to Hollywood. It was 1971 and Nation had wielded the self-confidence and poise she'd gained at Santa Rosa's June Terry Finishing School to win several modeling jobs and small film parts.

Those successes emboldened her to audition for a substantial role in a movie to star Katharine Ross, a hot commodity following 1967's "The Graduate" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in 1969. Coincidentally, Nation and Ross had studied a few years apart at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Nation was offered the part. It's easy to imagine how tempted she was to accept it. The primary complication: "In those days," she said, "you had to move to L.A." to hope to make it in motion pictures.

And Santa Rosa was home not only to her children but to the parents she relied heavily upon, the late Norm and Louise Nation, then the owners of a flight service at the Sonoma County Airport.

"It just didn't feel right" to uproot her family and leave Santa Rosa for Hollywood, Nation decided. She shelved the acting dream and resolved to pursue another passion she'd discovered at the June Terry school: Teaching.

She enrolled in the school to learn to feel better about herself. And as her confidence grew, the owners asked her to speak at high schools about self-esteem, and they taught her how to teach.

It wasn't long after she declined the movie role that the school's owners made her a surprise offer. They were contemplating leave Sonoma County for another business opportunity, and they asked Nation if she'd like to buy the June Terry Finishing School.

"I said yes, not having any idea about business," she said. "I didn't even know what the word &‘overhead' meant."

The year was 1972 and she was 28. Her commitment to buy the school ignited an exciting but also terrifying chapter of her life.

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