As a young child, I was self motivated to learn because I wanted to overcome my challenges. I’ve had the privilege of having great mentors in my life and the drive to succeed when faced with obstacles. My parents brought my family out to Marin County, California, after leaving the small town of Rogers, Arkansas when I was a small child. At the time, both my parents highest education degree were a couple highschool diplomas. When I moved to Tiburon, California because my Dad had a job offer for some construction work, the scene was totally different from Arkansas. Parents in Tiburon had trust funds and college swag for their children before they made it to grade K. The liberal environment of Marin was a change too. The spirit of the community gave me inspiration and motivation to learn and tackle my obstacles in school.
I had a learning disability called dyslexia. For me, the words would move around the page and I couldn’t get them to stay still in a straight line with my eyes. In 2nd grade I started to attend special education classes outside of regular class. Thus, I was working twice as hard as my peers and constantly falling short in the classroom. (Dyslexia is actually pretty common and many great minds have struggled with it like Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill, for example). It took a while for the school to figure out what was going on with me, but because of their fine resources and small teacher to student ratio I was able to get the help and assistance I needed early on. At the time the California school system had funding and dedicated those resources toward my education. Ironically, I wasn’t able to read until 4th grade, however, by 6th grade I graduated special ed and my teachers started to give me B’s and C’s for my work without additional help. I have my mother and the once funded California school system to thank.
In 9th grade I was recruited to apply for a leadership and mentorship program targeted at low income/high potential youth called Summer Search. I applied and was accepted for telling my story and being myself. It was pretty great! The founder, Linda Mornell, personally mentored me through high school. She gave me scholarships for summer learning programs, a college counselor, and after school tutoring for my college aptitude tests. Upon graduating high school I wrote my college essay about how Summer Search was like a family.
By the time I finished high school, much of which I spent home schooled, at Stanford University and a in the wilderness, I graduated with honors and was awarded seven scholarships to Ivy League’s and Colleges back east like Emerson College and Mount Holyoke. Linda Mornell and my college counselor, Sandy Pebbels, encouraged me to attend Mount Holyoke so I went!
Today I value my accomplishments in school. I have a 3.85 GPA as I’m currently getting my MBA in Business Management at Dominican Universities Pathway program for working professionals. Dominican has the most perfect program for me and is located close to my home town in Marin County, California. Ironically, it was my father’s suggestion to go back to school because, while I was away at college on the East Coast, he went to a similar program at Saint Mary’s College of California where he earned his BA in Business Management.
If it were not for the encouragement I received from my community in Marin County, my mentor Linda Mornell, and all of Summer Search I probably would not have had the opportunity to overcome my learning disability and go on to higher education. If I had stayed in Arkansas I would have found little motivation to learn because I wouldn’t have had the stimulation there. As I complete my MBA at night and on the weekends, I decided it would be a good time to take on anouther mentor. I’d like to proudly announce my new mentor, Larry Kramer.
Larry Kramer is local to Tiburon, California and a pioneer in digital media. He served as president of CBS Digital Media and prior to that founded MarketWatch. I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work and learn with Larry.