As a little girl, my father always told me “you can be anything you want to be.” Of course this was followed by “you just have to work hard at it.” His point was for me to understand that I was capable. I realized in young adulthood what a profound impact those words, his belief in me and a mind open to the possibility of anything, had on my success. In 1996, I graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in Child Development Family Studies; in 2007 I found myself being promoted from Senior Vice President to Principal at a Hedge Fund in New York City.
Following college I dove head first into a financial career. On paper I didn’t look like the other candidates however I was armed with “I can be anything I want.” I feel so fortunate to have had the support, the confidence that was placed in me and the basic behaviors set to get to this point. As I move through life and meet children, I wish I could give the same wisdom to each of them. Each child represents to me a bundle of possibility, opportunity and hope. This drive to share this, among other things, kept my desire to open a Nursery School burning thru a 13 year financial career.
The desire was further reignited following Sept 11th, 2001. That morning I sat at my desk on the 34th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. I am here today with the somber knowledge that life is finite, that everything can change – forever, in one moment. I have always known I was here with a purpose; that purpose being to show children the possibilities that lie ahead, to teach them to love the world and the people in it, as well as art, culture, and education. I was faced with the fact that tomorrow may never come and the understanding that I must fulfill my dreams now not later. I also realized that the type of hate and hopelessness that caused the Sept 11th attacks is difficult to mend in adults. However, teaching children to love and respect themselves and others, to appreciate our differences and our similarities, teaching them to “be the change they want in the world” and making sure they understand they can capture the opportunities in the world became ever so much more important to me. I have always been taught and have always strongly fought against bigotry and racism. At the very least, by prejudging we are missing out on what is really there in the other person. At the very most we are creating a situation filled with hatred which could lead us back down an awful path.
These points, in addition to my entrepreneurial spirit, have been the driving force behind my desire to open a Nursery School.
As part of this desire, I have tried to stay involved. I am currently a Board Member for the Children of Bellevue Program at Bellevue Hospital (http://www.childrenofbellevue.org/). It has been a way for me to utilize my free time and resources to positively impact the lives of children. My involvement has given me a little access to child development conversations which fascinate me. Once I chose my major at WVU and began Child Development classes I felt they were built for me! I absolutely loved the subject matter, learning and understanding children and putting the knowledge to work in the WVU Nursery School as part of my practicum.
Looking back in my life, I have always been ‘good with kids.’ At 3 years old, I started going to camp. Being a camper grew into being a counselor which I continued until I left for college. I loved it. I can remember playing with a little girl on a family vacation in the Poconos and my father commenting on what a good job I did. I think that was the moment I realized it was something I was great at! I also have always approached the world with a child-like wonder myself. I experience new things with excitement. How wonderful to always be with a group so enthusiastic about even the smallest of things.
Coming from a world in which typically both parents work, commute and search for moments in the day to spend with their children I wanted to make my nursery school a family center. It would be a center in which parents have the ability to spend those extra moments with their kids before running off to the next task. My ability to read my audience and to simplify difficult concepts worked well in the world of finance and equally as well amongst a room full of children. I love presenting. It is a skill I will carry forward by holding parental presentations on topics such as saving for college, child development etc.
Since I took a detour, I feel I need to go back to school to refresh my knowledge, to understand what has changed since I left and to formulate a business plan for the future.
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