Growing up, I was lucky enough to have parents who wanted to share their interests with me. Sometimes those interests weren't fully appreciated (the guitar picture is as close as I ever got to actually playing... Sorry, dad!), but others, most especially reading and learning have become a major part of my life and my sister's.
Some of my earliest memories are of being read bedtime stories, and I was always glad that both of my parents would read me some of my favorite books. Whether it was through Leah's Pony (a favorite for obvious reasons) or Jump, Frog, Jump (as pictured), I was able to have the love of reading ignited and have that passion be modeled by both of my parents.
This fact is particularly significant as my dad has been blind since the age of 2, which means that the books I got from the library or from a bookstore are not accessible to him, as they were only available in print. Through organizations like National Braille Press (NBP), my family was able to have books that had been published to have all of the aspects of a print book, as well as the text and descriptions of the pictures in braille. That meant that there was a variety of choices for me to read at bedtime that my mom, dad, and I could equally enjoy.
Thinking back on those bedtime stories, one of favorite print-braille books was The Story of Ruby Bridges. First and foremost, it was my sister's book, so asking for it meant that I could delay bedtime for a few minutes while we went to ask her permission to read it. It also taught me that other people do not get to tell me my worth and that we have the power to achieve our goals, regardless of our circumstances, if we continue to push through obstacles and find people who will have our backs. And perhaps most importantly, it is one of the first stories I remember where two women, Ruby and her teacher, are instigators of change.
Like Ruby, I was lucky enough to have an amazing support system growing up, particularly among the females in my life. Whether it was my mother, sister, and grandmother, my coworkers, my classmates and teachers, or my fellow females engineers, I knew that I always had people in my corner who wanted to see my succeed just as much as I wanted to see them succeed. When classes were hard or I was treated poorly by my peers, giving up was never an option and these women were always by my side as I pushed my way through. As I start my adult life and face the struggles of being a female in a male-dominated field, I am grateful to continue to have this support, and I want to do my part to help make sure that kids growing up today are taught this same message of not letting obstacles stand in the way of achieving your dreams.
For all of these reasons, I am excited to have the opportunity to help NBP make more books available to families with braille and print readers by sponsoring the publication of She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton. This story is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.
I hope you will join me in this effort by donating money to help cover the remaining 20 percent of publication costs.