Bachelor's Degree as a Defining Moment

Tell us about your defining moment or moments as a leader.  That was the question asked at a panel breakfast sponsored by Lead Change Tulsa last week.  So we asked the question on LinkedIn and got this response from Contributing Member Katie Stroud.

"A" defining moment for me was the day my mom met up with me at the University to see me graduate. I was all dressed up in my cap and gown and she saw me from the end of the hall when she arrived. From that distance I could see the tears of happiness start to roll.

I'm the first person in the family (that I know of) who has successfully earned a 4-yr degree for generations back as far as anyone knows. And family reaches far. I have upwards of 40-50 cousins, most of who are in their 20's or 30's. Of my 12 aunts and uncles, only the two youngest graduated from high school.

I had setbacks that kept me away from college at first, but when I finally snapped out of my intellectual slumber, going to school was second nature and just something that had to be done. It feels good to put that accomplishment on my resume, but for me, graduating was like crossing something off my list. I didn't even try that hard because, compared to life trials in past years, it was easy.

Not to my mom. To her, it was a dream--the impossible made real. It was like being granted a wish to stop world hunger. All her struggles to make ends meet for my 3 siblings and me over the years melted away in that moment. All those hardship's she fought for her kid's sake were made worth it. She didn't attend the classes, do the homework or work to pass tests. But my success was an accomplishment for her.

What that moment defined for me was that with leadership comes responsibility. Leaders, at any level, hold a piece of other peoples' hopes and dreams. That responsibility should not be taken lightly.

As far as I know, I'm still the only one in my extended family over generations to have earned a Bachelor's agree. I don't take that lightly.

Tell us about your defining moment or moments.  What made those moments special and what did you learn as a leader?


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