“How do you say your name?”

I get that a lot. Then I have to spell my last name.

“Where are you from?”

Pittsburgh. Actually, I live 45 minutes directly north of the city. It’s really not a city—Butler is unique. But there’s a beautiful lake nearby. I love to run there.

I love my hometown. I love the people there—we advance and survive. We’ve been through hell and back. When the steel mills stopped employing workers, it affected the town. It changed the way families operated. My grandmother single-handedly pulled her family (my mom) out of the Great Depression. My grandfather killed himself because he lost his job. It broke him. I never knew him.

Rejection hurts. It hurts a lot. Losing the ability to protect the people you love is even more unimaginable. But knowing my grandmother, I never knew her husband chose to leave the world. Yet sadly, I don’t think he ever saw the life they created together.

My grandmother graduated high school and worked as the switch-board operator for our school district. I’ve been told she was the fastest typer (on a typewriter) the principals had ever witnessed. Her nickname: “hardworking Caty.” As in Catherine, my middle name.

My mother graduated from arguably the best teaching school in the state. She became the best kindergarten teacher, choosing to teach her students the importance of kindness and respect over her carefully composed lesson plans. There’s proof of that: I can’t go anywhere without having her talk to a former student. She remembers all of their faces, names, and stories. I’m amazed.

I am a 22-year-old female law student. I never once thought that my dream, to make a difference in the world, was impossible. I never had a doubt that I would contribute my part to society to make it a better place. What I do question, however, is what my role will be.

 

When I speak, few listen. I guess they’re not interested in my story. And that hurts.

But I’ll never give up. I know there is a bright young mind somewhere in the world who will be our next leader. I was once that girl… looking to role models like Taylor Swift, Mallorie Winn, Shavonte Zellous, Santana, and the Los Lonely Boys. They’re all in different categories that tell the story of me. If you don’t know who they are, that’s okay. I’ll tell you about them. But be interested in my story.

More importantly, look at the minorities. They’re there. We’re here. We have a story to tell.

Teamwork is power, even more than knowledge. Use your gifts to help the team. That’s how we move forward.

Survive and advance.

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