I first wanted to be a writer, though I did not know what to write. I went through school honing a craft without direction. Then I met those struggling with mental illness and drug addiction, and I knew I was to tell their story. I wrote so their voices could be heard. But as a teacher I learned that while telling someone's story is powerful, helping others tell their own story is empowering. It was a paradigm shift from a personal focus to an outward calling. Since then I have helped others find their voice and tell their story. They often begin their story in unexpected places. One minute a student is asking about an assignment, and the next she almost apologetically confesses her future dream. Her voice falters as if the dream is too big for her capabilities; yet, her eyes betray her hope. My calling is to listen to her dream, encourage the seed of hope, and empower her to act on the possibility. And most importantly, hear her tell this dream not once, but as many times as she needs to tell it, as many times as she needs it to be heard. Because once she believes one person is listening, she is empowered, and the dream can live.
This empowerment happens again and again -- with the first-generation student, with the student struggling with anxiety, with the young mother returning to school -- all with a dream, needing someone to listen and empower them to believe in themselves. I recognize these actions seem small; yet, I have seen students accomplish things greater than they ever dared to imagine. And so, I listen; I encourage; I empower, because their story is more powerful when they learn to tell it themselves.
What Drives You to #AchieveMore?