Tagged: United States

Art Beat: New Work By Erin Morrissey

As you can tell from our masthead, us LC members go way back. With over ten years of friendship in the bank, we’ve watched as our work change and progress. Since she works in the arts, our girl Erin Morrissey generated a particularly amazing visual timeline over the past decade. For as long as we’ve known her, Erin has been drawing on a daily basis, experimenting with new techniques, and constantly pushing her work to the next level.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

We think Erin’s latest collection is particularly awesome because it’s such a departure from her usual style. While she’s a phenomenal artists capable of producing lifelike work, this new series is all about experimentation and abstraction. First, she creates a portrait sketch. Then, she painstakingly silkscreens the sketch onto a canvas, cleans up the lines, and creates a clean print. For those of you who haven’t silk screened before, the medium doesn’t necessarily lend itself to precise, clean lines. Creating a quality print requires patience, a good eye, and a steady hand.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

Once she pulls the print, Erin adds individual details by hand: a swatch of copper ink here, an additional flourish there. The final piece catches your eye, invite you to explore the details, and look great on any wall.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

Want an Erin Morrissey original? You’re in luck; she’s just launched her own shop and regularly posts new pieces. Take a look, snag a print, and share the link with a friend. Way to go, girl!

Dame of the Day: Patricia Longley Cochran

Patricia Longley Cochran

Today’s Dame of the Day is Patricia Longley Cochran. Currently, Cochran serves as the Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission. As a member of the Alaskan Inuit tribe, Cochran works to connect tribal members with local scientific initiatives and research. Her efforts also highlight the impact of climate change on the area’s indigenous communities.

Schoolin’ Life: Hannah Means-Shannon

In today’s installment of Schoolin’ Life, we get to know Hannah Means-Shannon. She’s Editor-in-Chief of Bleeding Cool.com and Bleeding Cool Magazine, a comics scholar, and a former English Professor.

hannah means shannon

When you were in your 20s…
What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

Entering my 20’s, I was already conflicted about my future career, but was happy to continue to be a researcher, finish my Ph.D., and work in a library to support myself. I hoped to gain more recognition as a creative writer and travel much more widely since academic study had limited my ability to travel once I was a graduate student. I was an American living in the UK at the time, and I honestly didn’t know where I would end up, though I hoped to have more freedom once I completed my Ph.D. to make that choice. I saw the decade as a route to empowerment but was also conscious that I wanted to enjoy my life rather than just become absorbed with work.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I found the expectations that I had experienced as a young woman in America somewhat limiting. I also came from a Southern background, which was fairly conservative, expecting girls to dress up and wear makeup from a young age. When I considered whether to go to college in the USA, I was told that since I was a girl, it was best that I didn’t go to college more than an hour or two from home. It took a big leap to break from that and study overseas instead. That was an important step where I looked for a different set of expectations for myself. I feel that British society was more encouraging of my intellectual pursuits and also allowed me to feel freer about my appearance and self-expression.

What was your first job like?

My first job was as a summer camp instructor for young children at a “day camp” meaning the students didn’t stay there overnight. It was quite a jump into the deep end since my first class was 4-5 years old and there were many pupils. I learned a huge amount about child development, and the ways in which young children can surprise you with sophisticated thoughts as well as seeming at times like they are only one step beyond their toddler years.

What was your first apartment like?

Well, I lived in my own lodgings from the age of 16 and also in university accommodation that was never shared. The first classic apartment I rented was in my late 20’s and it had a sitting room/kitchen, a bedroom, and a kind of alcove as well as bathroom. I found that to be plenty of room, especially to keep clean since I don’t relish house cleaning. I had a lot of books and managed to make them fit. I think I realized that having a ton of space isn’t necessarily what you need or want at certain stages of your life. I worked at home and went out a lot socially and that was just right for me.

Did you experience any big life changes?

Sure, absolutely. Let’s see—I was engaged for a few years in my young 20’s and that didn’t work out, which was a big emotional experience. I made decisions to move back to the USA and then to Japan for a year, and then back to the USA. I got my first real college teaching job full-time, and got engaged again. My 20’s were probably the most changeable in my life. Having said that, I am quite a changeable person so life has continued to surprise me.

In what ways did your friendships change?

The friendships I formed in my early 20’s have stayed with me, actually. I was fortunate in that some of the people in my life were in proximity for several years during that time, and though the decade moved us all over the world, those are still my formative friendships. If you don’t have enough in common, those friendships will fade away. You get used to not necessarily celebrating friendship through the same rituals—now we use social media and e-mails to stay in touch. But by my late 20’s and even now, I’m crossing oceans just to see these people and it’s worth it.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

Let’s see if I can say anything wise: you probably have a lot less control over who you care about than you think. Trying to turn off your feelings isn’t a good idea, so that means you have to endure change and not every relationship will work out. But my conclusion based on my experience is that it is better to take risks than to close yourself off from life-changing experiences.

How did your relationships with your family change?

Pretty drastically. I went from the perpetual graduate student to finally having an income. I think that my family saw me in a different light once I was in charge of hundreds of students, but then again teaching runs in the family. My siblings and I went through changes in our relationships. I think we became even more of a support system for each other the more we moved into the adult world.
How do you feel society viewed you?

I think society viewed me as being a little wild and perhaps too emotionally connected to the arts. I had many weird haircuts, a few different hair colors, and at least a dozen different style changes in my clothing, none of them particularly sedate. But I also became known as a writer within my community and among like-minded people I often felt reassured by their view of me. I was probably fairly rebellious toward the status quo, which I probably thought of when I heard the word “society” throughout my 20’s. But conversely, I took a lot of inspiration from previous generations.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I have always been a very emotional person and still am. But the more experiences you have in life, the more grounds you have for comparison. I learned to panic less about things not going the way that I had expected or planned them to go by having experiences I wouldn’t have chosen turn out well. When I lived in Japan, the school I was teaching for had a lot of problems and I eventually felt I should leave the job. I found myself somewhat alone in another country with a couple of months to spare and not much money. I was forced to find a workable solution and it was a great time for me. I economized, found somewhere to stay, and spent my time traveling and writing based on practical needs. That was “me time” and it was great.

How did you change intellectually?

That may be the toughest question for me to answer in the list. I was intellectually engaged from a young age and I spent my 20’s in academic study. But the truth is, I got way more restless and inventive intellectually during my 20’s. There were my “official” studies and then there were my studies as a writer. I read tons of novels and plays that had nothing to do with my curriculum simply because I didn’t know about other cultures and wanted to. I came to realization that there are no limits on learning—it’s in your own hands.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I think I shifted from a scholar to a writer more fully in my 20’s, accommodating both. I think I became a lot braver about traveling and spending time alone and also about meeting new people and learning about the world. I stopped being as worried about fitting in and much more concerned with what made me unique as a person.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

My worldview was somewhat global since I had moved around a lot as a kid, but as I’ve mentioned above, I also faced limitations based on gender and tradition. Exploring other cultures became the key to personal freedom for me—you can’t make choices about how you want to live fully unless you can see difference and options. As I told my students for many years teaching, the first advice I would give to someone in their 20’s is to study abroad. It will make more than an academic difference.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I feel like I spent a lot of my 20’s embarrassed. Probably one of the worst moments was having a loud argument with my boyfriend early in the morning on a busy street corner and just not giving a damn about the looks people were giving me. Then an entire enclave of my professors walked by, walking up behind me so I didn’t curtail the loud dispute at all. Come to think of it, I think they were more embarrassed than me.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

My biggest disappointment then, from my perspective at the time, was probably when I didn’t get a scholarship I was hoping to get that would allow me to do a graduate degree. I thought my life was over and was truly shaken up by it because I had wanted to do a graduate degree and teach from a young age.

I started packing up to move back home, even. I felt that life had made a decision for me that would affect my future and I wasn’t happy about it. At some point, when I had calmed down a few days later, I began making lists of long shots of what I might be able to do to continue my studies. It took some massive determination but through combining a series of approaches to scholarships and loans, I was able to continue. That made a big difference in my life because I followed through on my goals and didn’t let outward circumstances call the shots so easily.

Who was your biggest influence and why?

My biggest influences continued to be my maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, who had been big influences in my childhood. The last of them passed away when I was 21, but not before seeing me off to college. Both placed a huge value on education and intellectual pursuits, and my grandmother, having been an artist, was quite rebellious too. When I needed to reassess my own identity, I went back to them mentally and that helped me avoid conformity that might be limiting and kept me from underestimating myself since they had both led very interesting lives.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

When I think about my 20’s, there are quite a few things to choose from, whether it was exploring Paris early in the morning, or taking part in fire festivals at night in Japan. Those are the kind of beautiful moments you hold onto. A lot of my big life-changing events have actually happened in my 30’s, so that’s a hard question to answer otherwise.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

My regrets are mainly centered around the time I wasted worrying or disliking myself, or not thinking I looked or acted the way I wanted my persona to be. I would definitely advise to reject the urge to be constantly dissatisfied with yourself and instead spend your time focusing on something new to learn or experience rather than focusing on the negative. And also to keep in mind that you feel like you’re a fully formed adult, but really life is constantly changing on you and you’re at the beginning of something, not the end of a developmental period.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

When I was finishing up my doctoral degree, I had a trip planned with friends for after I finished and submitted my thesis. It was the trip to end all trips in the South of France and it was going to be fantastic. Things were booked and paid for well ahead. Everything was on track. It kept me going through the days of nonstop work leading up to the end.

Then one day I received a note from my supervisors that they had decided they wanted me to switch my citation method on my 300 page thesis. For those of you have done research, you might guess the avalanche of work that means focused on minutiae. They advised me to reschedule the completion of my degree and take an extra 6 months to do it. Either way the trip was off. I felt very angry that this decision hadn’t been made earlier and that it was affecting my life in this way.
I decided to try to complete the corrections before the summer was out, and moved the trip by 6 weeks, managing to keep things booked. For 6 weeks I basically slept in the library and showered in nearby dorms. I kept to a really specific schedule and I did it. One day ahead of schedule I handed in my thesis and shoved off on my trip on the date I’d set. My advisors congratulated me. They hadn’t thought it was possible and they had to give me credit for determination. And yeah, that was the best trip ever.

Dame of the Day: Maria Tallchief

maria tallchielf

Today’s Dame of the Day is Maria Tallchief (January 24, 1925-April 11, 2013). As a child growing up in the Sioux Nation, Tallchief danced constantly. When she turned 17, she moved from Oklahoma to New York City to pursue a career in dance. Tallchief’s grace and power captivated choreographer George Balanchine and, when he launched the New York City Ballet, he placed her at the forefront of the corps. Tallchief received the National Medal of the Arts and a Kennedy Center Honor for her dancing. Not only is she considered the first prima ballerina of the United States, but she was also the first Native American woman to earn the title.

Schoolin’ Life: Sabrina Majeed

In today’s edition of Schoolin’ Life, we get to know designer Sabrina Majeed.

Sabrina

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I grew up in North Texas in a very white, very Southern Baptist school district. I’m half Chinese, half Pakistani and was raised as an only child in an Islamic household, and it was very lonely. I was the only kid who didn’t eat pepperoni pizza or didn’t go to church. My dad’s side of the family put so many restrictions on what I could and couldn’t wear. I realize that I still had a very privileged upbringing but at the time, everything felt unfair. My parents got divorced when I was eight, which was very hard for me, but after that, my mom’s views on Islam seriously relaxed. I became very “Americanized” and loved it. I knew the expectations for me on my dad’s side were to stay in Texas and go to college, but to meet a husband, not to build a career for myself. I’m not really ‘bout that life, so there’s always been a drive inside of me to prove them wrong. In a way, society’s expectations only gave me higher expectations for myself.

What was your first job like?

While I don’t regret leaving my first job, I do think I took it for granted while I was there. I was fresh out of design school and all my friends were getting jobs at well- known design studios or start-ups. I ended up working at Intuit on small business accounting tools. Very sexy. I spent a lot of my time wishing I was working on something more consumer-facing or having angst over their very corporate style guide. Looking back on it though, that experience has really shaped the rest of my career. People like to bash on big companies but having since worked at some dysfunctional small start-ups, I can say that I know what a healthy and professional work environment should look like and I know what standards to hold future employers to. Also, Intuit gave me complete creative freedom and the opportunity to work on my first iPhone app when that was still a relatively new platform, which basically catapulted my career as a designer and gave me a nice niche to establish myself in. For that, I’ll always be grateful.

What was your first apartment like?

When I think of my first apartment, I think of the first one I lived in by myself. I had been living in San Francisco in a spacious and affordable apartment with two other women, only paying $1000 a month. After some time, I got this strong desire to nest — to start investing in furniture and put effort into decorating my home. I found a tiny one bedroom in Alamo Square for almost twice as much as what I had been paying, though still a steal by today’s standards. It was kind of like a dollhouse; all the rooms were very small, but the bedroom even had bay windows and french doors! I even started my own blog documenting my decorating efforts. Sadly, I only lived there for six months because then I got an offer to move to NYC for work. Now that I’ve had a taste of NYC real estate, I’m pretty sure that losing that little one bedroom is going to haunt me for life.

Did you experience any big life changes?

I went through a really bad break-up in my early 20’s. It wasn’t even my longest or most significant relationship, but I had basically been going from one serious monogamous relationship into another. I had never been truly on my own before and when it happened unexpectedly, I was terrified and devastated that my life wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would. I couldn’t have gotten through it without my best friend. We were newly single around the same time and we learned to embrace it. We got into all kinds of trouble, but it was fun and incredibly freeing. I’m in a relationship now but I still look back on those two years I was single and am like… that. was. the. shit. I have so many crazy memories that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I really came out of that break-up a lot more independent and not just comfortable, but happy, to be alone.

How did your relationships with your family change?

As I grow older, I’ve become increasingly more sentimental about my family. When I graduated high school, I wanted to get as far away from my hometown as possible. I was pretty sure I would never move back to Texas, yet lately I’ve been thinking about eventually doing just that. I think I needed that space and some distance to really appreciate what I have, which is incredibly supportive parents who have come to trust me and my decisions. My mom was also older than average when she had me, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more acutely aware of that and wish that we could spend more time together.

How do you feel society viewed you?

As someone markedly different, which could be good and bad. It was bad-different growing up in north Texas. I got used to being people’s token “ethnic” friend growing up, and their first exposure to a non-Caucasian lifestyle. When I went to college and eventually San Francisco afterwards, people seemed to think my mixed-race background was cool and unique. I liked that it set me apart from everyone else. Eventually though, it got to a point where people— men in particular— would fixate on that, which felt weird. They’ll say things like, That’s a rare mix; I’ve never encountered one of you before” which makes me feel more like an endangered animal than a person.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

As a kid, and even into my college years, my identity was very conservative. I always tried to do things by the book. I was very shy in high school and actively avoided standing out so I never broke any rules, and didn’t really challenge authority or even myself. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about the tech industry, but at the same time, working in this industry in my 20’s has made me much more comfortable taking risks, challenging assumptions, and having the confidence to do my own thing regardless of what other people think about it. Every risk I’ve taken in my 20’s has paid off and the more that happens, and the more positive reinforcement I get, it becomes easier to just do what I feel like instead of overthinking it.

How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I definitely entered my twenties believing in meritocracy, and the idea that you have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps and if you weren’t successful, you weren’t trying hard enough. I also had a very individualist every-woman-for-herself mentality and approach to my career. In my early 20’s, I would hear women complaining about the workplace and I just didn’t get what the big deal was, but the thing is my expectations were so different and so much lower for how my career should look as an entry-level designer. I was just happy to be there. Eventually, you grow, and that’s not enough and I began to understand what all these other women were talking about. Then I realized it’s not just women; there’s so many different vectors that affect one’s livelihood such as race, orientation, and ableness, and merit has a lot less to do with it than most people would like to believe. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely come to embrace the fact that I am a bleeding heart liberal, which is something I felt but actively tried to suppress showing early in my twenties.

Is there a story that you feel best sums up the decade?

There’s a story about London, which is a city that has a lot of meaning to me. In my early twenties, I dated three different guys from the UK. My friends still make fun of me for it; I guess I had a type. There was a common theme where they each talked about the idea of taking me to London or having me visit. In one of those relationships, I was actually in the early stages of planning a trip when we broke up, which sucked because it was something I was really looking forward to that now felt out of reach. I hadn’t travelled that much at this point in my life. About a half a year later though, I ended up getting accepted to speak at a design conference in London. It was my first time public speaking and my first time traveling alone internationally, and I think it’s so much more romantic that I made it there on my own merits instead of going with some guy— especially the type of guys I liked in my early 20s. Turns out, I really enjoyed traveling alone, too. It’s a very significant story to me because it taught me that I don’t need to wait for someone else to go after the things I want in life. I’m very capable of doing it on my own.

Dame of the Day: Michi Weglyn

Michi WeglynToday’s Dame of the Day is Michi Weglyn (November 29, 1926–April 25, 1999). Growing up in the western United States during the World War II, Weglyn and her family experienced the pain of Japanese internment camps firsthand. When she was released, she moved to the East Coast for college and later became the most prominent Japanese-American in theatrical costume design. Yet the wounds of internment still ached, and in 1976, Weglyn published Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America’s Concentration Camps. The book chronicled the government’s abuse of the Japanese-Americans and laid the groundwork for a later reparations movement.

 

Dame of the Day: Tracy Chou

Tracy Chou of pintrest

 

Today’s Dame of the Day is Tracy Chou. As an accomplished programmer, Chou has written code for Facebook, Google, Quora, and Pinterest. But when she pushed the tech world to come clean about the number of women they hired, Chou became a lighting rod for the industry’s less-than-diverse hiring practices. By insisting that tech companies apply the same data driven approaches they use to solve technical problems, Chou drew attention to the industry’s diversity problem and set them on a course to correct it.

 

Dame(s) of the Day: USWNT

uswnt

Today’s Dames of the Day are the members of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team. During the final game of the women’s World Cup, goalie Hope Solo tied the record for longest shutout streak; she kept the goal clear for 540 consecutive minutes. Within the first 16 minutes, midfielder Carli Lloyd scored three goals; Lloyd’s hat trick goes down in the books as the fastest ever in soccer. The team defeated Japan 5-2, bringing the cup back to the U.S. for the first time since 1999. Congratulations, USWNT!

Schoolin’ Life: Nilah Magruder

In this week’s installment of Schoolin’ Life, we get to know cartoonist and author Nilah Magruder.

nilah_headshotFULL

 

Give us a quick bio: who are you, what are you into, and how do you spend your days?

I’m a storyboard artist, comic creator and soon-to-be children’s book author living in Los Angeles. I’m very much into creating stories. My job’s pretty great; I draw and watch movies, then go home and do more of the same. On occasion, I go out to hang with friends or my coworkers, but I’m kind of a shut-in who likes to stay home and lie around with my roommate and my roommate’s cats.

When you were in your 20s…

What expectations did you have for yourself over the coming decade?

I was sure I would be an investigative reporter by now. Or maybe a business-savvy agent at a PR firm, wearing sleek business suits, living in a cool apartment with a massive kitchen in DC. Last thing I expected to be is an artist schlepping around Hollywood in jeans and hoodies.

In what ways did society shape your expectations of yourself?

I figured I’d go to college, get a degree, get a job, and that would be it. Step 1, step 2, step 3, profit. You know, the American dream (I guess?). I’m actually not sure what my endgame was. In school, starting your career seemed like this textbook, step-by-step process, and I believed that when I hit the right milestone that everything would fall into place and start making sense. I never hit that milestone. Eventually everything started making sense, but not in the way I expected.

What was your first job like?

I’ve been working since I was sixteen. My very first job was server at a restaurant, and I only stayed four months, enough time to make a bit of spending money. It was what could be expected: a bunch of kids goofing off too much while serving food to families and retirees for $5.25/hr. Some nights were fun, but I never missed the place. My first career-related job was freelance journalist for a local paper. I started my junior year in college (I’m still in awe that they gave a college kid a steady paying gig). It was a lot of fun; I wrote for the arts and entertainment section and got sent all over the county to speak with artists, writers, singers, dancers, and to cover events. I covered verything from fundraisers, to art exhibitions, to community theatre. I kept that job as long as I could, until I found a full-time position as a marketing writer and I didn’t have time to drive to Frederick anymore.

What was your first apartment like?
My first apartment was the one I lived in while I was attending Art Institute of Washington, in Arlington, VA (just outside of Washington, DC). I shared it with three other girls, and it was fine at first. Drama quickly set in though: lots of dumb roommate meetings and passive aggressiveness, and there was a cranky guy who lived under us that complained any time we so much as breathed or, y’know, existed at all. Writing about it now, it sounds like stereotypical apartment living, haha! It was tough, though, because I wasn’t working, I didn’t have any money and I didn’t like asking my parents for any, so there were times when I had no food and I didn’t know what I was going to eat. And I was lonely, so I took the train home pretty much every weekend. But I loved the city, despite all that.

Did you experience any big life changes?

Going to college was big. Studying in South Korea for a month was big. Starting my career was big. Going to art school. Interning at a large film studio. My aunt died in 2010. Those are the moments that stick out.

In what ways did your friendships change?

The friendships I have now run very deep, and most of them I developed in adulthood. I’ve never been the type that needs a huge social circle. I’ll cut off a relationship quick if I think it’s become toxic, but at the same time I’ve become more accepting of people. A lot of my friends are people I’ve shared important moments with, like the friends I made in Korea, and my art school friends. Others simply share the same goals and we help push each other along. My friends are all over the place. I don’t know how I’d get along without the Internet. I’m sure I’d be a lot lonelier.

What did you learn through your romantic relationships?

I’ve never had any! Never had a boyfriend, never even been on a date. That level of intimacy has been a curiosity at best, but I’ve never felt a craving for it. My only boyfriend was in first grade, and it lasted until the following day when we found out we were cousins. ;P

How did your relationships with your family change?

At the same time I got closer to my mom, I feel like I’ve grown apart from everyone else. I talk to my mom every day, and everyone else only now and then. It’s weird and sad if I think too much about it.

How do you feel society viewed you?

I’m not sure society noticed me at all.

How do you feel you changed emotionally?

I’ve chilled out, I think. Gotten more confident. I know who I am, I know my strengths and my weaknesses. Being aware of those things has made me more comfortable in my own skin. In my twenties, I was a lot angrier, a lot more prone to flying off the handle or falling into depression. I have those moments now, but for the most part I can manage them. I’m a little more flexible, more ready to accept whatever happens in my life and roll with the punches.

How did you change intellectually?

I feel like I’ve gotten dumber sometimes, haha. Like I knew more when I was younger. But I’m savvier now, less apprehensive of change or new experiences. I think a lot of my book intellect’s been replaced with life experience.

In what ways do you feel your identity changed?

I’ve always been “the artist.” That hasn’t changed much. I’ve always been a fly on the wall, too – it’s what made me a good journalist!


How did your worldview change over the course of the decade?

I’ve become much more aware of oppression and hypocrisy in government policies, of the struggles that people face across populations. Growing up black, female, and lower class has exposed me to a lot of prejudice, but it’s made me more compassionate, too, so I’m glad for that. Funny enough, I was cynical when I was younger, but these days I’m more optimistic.

What was the most embarrassing moment?

I’ve had so many, how can I be expected to choose only one? Once I was riding a bus in Seoul and wasn’t prepared for the hard stops it made. I fell back and stepped squarely on this woman’s foot. She screamed loud enough for the whole bus to hear, of course. The worst is I didn’t know how to say “sorry” in Korean, so I feel like I never fully conveyed my regret.

What was your biggest disappointment and how did that affect you later?

I didn’t win some award in art school. Well, that happened a lot in art school, haha. I was so determined to succeed and prove myself, but for the particular accolades I’d set my eyes on, my work was never quite good enough. I was good, but not the “it” person I wanted to be. These days, it feels silly that I was so stressed about it, but I cried a lot of bitter tears over it at the time.


Who was your biggest influence and why?

My mom, I think. I didn’t really have role models… no one I wanted to emulate. My dad’s an alcoholic, and there’s not a lot I care to remember about growing up, but my mom did everything to give me and my brother a somewhat normal upbringing. She was the person I had complete and unshakable faith in.

Is there any one experience that you feel defined the decade? Or one historical moment that changed you?

9/11, perhaps. There aren’t a lot of moments over the decade that I remember with clarity, but I remember that day. I lived three miles from the Pentagon. I was walking to class that morning and a fire truck sped past me, and I thought, “Whoa, where’s the fire?” Next thing I know, I’m at school and students are scrambling because the city’s about to go on lockdown. It was also the year I turned nineteen, and it’s around that time that I was starting to think about the world around me and my place in it.

Do you have any regrets? Are there things you wish you’d done, hadn’t done, or done differently?

Still wish I’d done a semester abroad in Spain. I was a transfer student, already overloading on credits to make sure I graduated on time, and study abroad would’ve thrown off my schedule. I didn’t want to risk graduating a semester late. I’m glad I got to go to Korea, though – I almost chickened out, so I’m really glad I stuck with it.

Dame of the Day: Kira Orange Jones

Kira Orange Jones

Today’s Dame of the Day is Kira Orange Jones. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, Jones rolled up her sleeves to rebuild it. As executive director of the city’s Teach for America program, Jones recruited strong teachers to the area and consulted with veteran educators, community members, and reformers to eliminate the distinctions between charter and public schools. Over time, graduation rates increased from 50% to 75% and more students attend college after high school.