Looking back over my career paths, yes paths, I can attribute both of them to one of my high school teachers. Her mentorship and inspiration lead me to where I am and where I am going next. The teacher that changed my life was my Speech Teacher and Drama Director, Mrs. Cheryl Dean.

Mrs. Dean, who was Mrs. Lankford when I was in high school, challenged me to do things I didn't know I could do, which showed me what I was meant to do and where I was meant to go. When I was a freshman in her Speech and Journalism classes, she saw something in me that I had yet to discover.

Mrs. Dean challenged me to be on her Speech Team. She wanted me to do Girls Extemporaneous Speaking. This event encompassed knowledge of current events, which I didn't have. It also involved the ability to get a topic, take fifteen minutes to research and write a speech, then present the topic speech in front of a judge with minimal help from your ONE note card. You had thirty minutes total to complete this task. It was an extremely hard and crazy adrenaline rush all in one.

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I loved every minute of it. I was good at it too. Taking after my dad, I realized I could BS, make them believe, anything I said. If I messed up a little, I quickly learned I could recover and move on without them knowing.

Here is an old photo of me and my teammates before going to the regional competition.

All of the skills I learned on the Speech team are needed for LIVE radio. Over the years, I discovered I was kinda funny and slightly amusing too. Being able to wake the Trisate up every morning has been like a thrill ride, with twists and turns and up and downs, but I absolutely love entertaining through the spoken word. 

Over the course of my freshman year, and working closely with Mrs. Dean, I became very confident and ready to try new things. Test and stretch the limits of what I thought I was capable of doing or becoming.

After my sophomore year, Mrs. Dean decided to put me in Dramatic Interpretation, where I played five different characters in the same scene, and Duo Interpretation, where I played the nun in the play, Agnus of God, with another amazing actress playing the psychologist. We took that piece to state. Well, we could have, but I decided to go party with my friends on Spring Break instead. I know, what a loser. I don't always make the right decisions. LOL 

During that time, She also convinced me to audition for the plays and, well, you know how much THAT affected my life. I went on to study theatre at Indiana University, direct high school theatre for 10 years, and start a community theatre company in Gibson County.

Now, I am excited to be working with Studio 321, in Evansville, to begin teaching four different age-appropriate theatre classes for kids from third grade through twelfth grade. Hopefully, I can, again, help kids attain confidence and think creatively.  Guide them to find themselves and the gifts and talents. Help them to follow their dreams, whatever their dreams may be. Just like Mrs. Dean did for me. Mrs. Dean is now retired and living the good life in Florida as she deserves. I love her so. She was my inspiration and continues to be every day.

I am truly living my intended career paths. With radio and theatre, I am living my true self, using my gifts, and living my dreams. All of this is thanks to my incredible, dedicated, and amazingly talented teacher Mrs. Dean, and the light she shined on my life.

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