There have been plenty of people who have tried to silence me over the years. On a few rare occurrences, the person contacted me directly and we had a rational discussion about our differences. But more often than not, they hid their identity behind a screen or through an anonymous letter. They wanted me to stop talking. Their ignorance and their deep seated fears drove them to anonymity. While I never give credibility to cowards, I also never let them hide in the shadows and I certainly never want them to think I am ashamed of how I behave or what I believe in.
So, today, I share the latest hate sent my way.
I do it for myself, for my daughter, and for my sweet dad who died nearly 30 years ago. My dad and I had a pact. When I was about 10, I took a position against capital punishment and decided on a career as an attorney. He cheered me on until I changed my dream and he helped me make that one come true.
Both of my parents are high school graduates and I am the only one of my eight siblings to earn a college degree. In the summer of 1983, just weeks after graduating from high school, I started college at Murray State University. My father was a disabled World War II veteran and they paid my tuition. My boyfriend lent me the money for my dorm and I got a job on campus. I loved Murray State and I was grateful for every opportunity and person I met while a student. MSU changed my life! It prepared me for an amazing journey.
And, so when I was presented with an opportunity to serve on the board of regents eight years ago, I believed it was an opportunity to pay it forward. My favorite day is helping new students move into the dorms. Every year, I see myself in at least one of them. I have seen the uncertainty in their faces and for many of them they too are the first of their families to attend college. They have big dreams and I want to help them see beyond their fears. I know Murray State is their pathway to a better life.
I am beginning my last year on the board and two days ago, I was elected chair of the board. On what was supposed to be a happy day, someone took to their computer screen to write a letter to explain why my fellow regents should not elect me. Fortunately, these men and women didn’t give any credibility to an empty voice.
The truth is my daughter does have big aspirations, but I can assure you she will pick where she goes to college. I consider myself a great public relations professional and I credit Murray State for teaching me how to tell my story and the stories of the businesses that hire me. I don’t consider myself to be power hungry, but I will never give my power away, particularly to someone who wants to do harm. I won’t count on someone else to solve the problems before me and I won’t teach my daughter to give her voice away either.
I share the letter because my dad did not raise me to hide. Like most families, we’ve had our share of bad choices and loss and I am not ashamed of anyone I love or anything I’ve done. I also share this for all of the kids sitting in front of their phone seeing much worse than anything you will read from my hater.
I hope my story helps kids being cyber bullied to know what I know. You did nothing wrong and you shouldn’t change who your are because someone doesn’t like it. You are enough and you don’t need their permission to live a big life. No matter who they are. You are better than that and one day maybe they will be as well.