I have been so fortunate over the years to have such incredible mentors - starting with my parents. Even though my mom and dad divorced when I was two, they have both been wonderful parents for me. I am their only child together, although I have a half sister and two step-sisters. Mentally, however, I was raised an only child and the dynamics of being in a step-family where I didn't totally fit in led me to building relationships with many different people who I consider family to me.
My mom worked full time when I was growing up and being in the legal field her hours were very long. I was lucky that there were members of my church who were willing to pick me up and drop me off for activities, making sure I was able to be involved. I grew up in an inner-city congregation that had many problems, but we took care of each other. When I was later in high school I had teachers who mentored me and guided me. My mom, working harder than ever, came to every football and basketball game my Junior and Senior year, because I was a cheerleader and sometimes that was the only time we saw each other.
When I got to college, my dad started helping me with papers. It was a tumultuous time in my step-family, but I stayed close to my dad, who I couldn't be around much growing up, but who always let me know I was important to him. I was very close to my grandmothers, from whom I inherited the ability to stay in touch with everyone I have ever known.
I moved to Virginia where I joined the Institute program and spent week in and week out learning the scriptures more in-depth than at any other time in my life. I met leaders who have gone on to be THE leaders of the Institute program around the world. I was fortunate to have mentors in my career, who helped me learn the art of recruiting.
And now, at the ripe old age of 40, I am grateful to have mentors and friends who are positive changemakers. People who live their lives and don't sit on the sidelines out of fear or laziness. I love the energy and enthusiasm for life. I have friends at this moment in India, helping women in business. They felt a pull to make a difference, and are doing so. I love that example and hope to follow it.
When all is said and done and I look at the big picture of my life, I know that it will be the mentors who whispered in my ear that I could do it, who believed in me and let me believe in them, and who encouraged me to dream big in spited of the odds, who will have made the difference.