I grew up in a small city in central Wisconsin. The youngest of two girls, I had a great childhood, in what now seems like a bubble world. We had a modest family income, lived far from any large cities, and in effect, we lived a pretty simple life. Birthdays were celebrated at a bowling alley, roller-skating rink, or movie theater. My classmates were nearly all Caucasians of Polish or German descent. We didn’t have a ton of culture. This predictable, unvarying life was comfortable but left me feeling unfulfilled.
What I learned from having great mentors in my adolescence was that there is more to life than what I saw in my hometown. Without my high school finance and economics teacher, I wouldn’t have taken my first trip abroad after graduation. He was always teaching from the comfort of his Dutch clogs, showing us pictures of the catacombs of Prague, and talking about finding bathrooms in Europe by looking for doors marked with the designation WC – water closet. Without my career driven Aunt showing me Nevada, California, and Virginia, I wouldn’t have known that I could go to school and live anywhere in the country. Had my grandparents not been snowbirds, I probably wouldn’t have realized that you don’t need to spend every winter buried in three feet of freezing cold ice and snow!
It takes just one person in your life to open your mind up to a whole new world of possibilities. My goal with SLA Foundation is to share that inspiration with our youth. I want to show them that just because no one in their family may have gone to college before doesn’t mean that they can’t. That just because their friends and family are in Austin, doesn’t mean they won’t find more friends, happiness, and success outside of their comfort zone in a new city. I want to help them face their fears and see what the world has to offer so that they can find their true passion and reach their goals.
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