Karen Taylor, '89, Executive Vice President of Consumer Banking at Boone County National Bank
Congratulations! I can still remember the feeling I had when I completed my Bachelor's degree at Columbia College. You've accomplished something great. It's a milestone in your life, and you deserve to celebrate.
After a while of attending part-time, my family, my husband and two small sons, and I had a discussion about whether I should attend full-time and finish my degree. If I went full time for the next two years, I could complete that degree. And we all agreed it was something that we should do, and I say "we" because everybody in the family had to be in agreement. We were ready to finish the journey. I graduated when my boys were in kindergarten and third grade, and they were probably the proudest attendees at graduation.
I have since then earned my MBA, which has allowed me some new opportunities. I have been and will continue to be grateful to Columbia College for providing me the opportunity for that education.
When I congratulated you, I said that this was a milestone in your life. You've accomplished something great and this is the first step in that road to achieving whatever it is that you want to achieve because really, it's all up to you. You're familiar with that old saying, "If you think you can, you can, and if you think you can't, you can't." Well isn't that the truth? That came home to me when I had the opportunity to hear Amy Mullen speak at a banquet.
Amy is a Paralympic athlete, and I didn't even know there were Olympics for paraplegics. She had both legs amputated below the knee when she was a child. She had a great attitude, and she credited that to her parents who never let her take the easy way out. She was quite the athlete and played on her high school softball team which went to the state playoffs and won. She ran track in college against able-bodied women and won. And when she learned of the Paralympics, she was intrigued and thought she should give it a try. She won the races she entered and then she walked over to where they were holding the long-jump. She asked when the women jumped and was told that there were no women competing. So Amy said, "Well there is now."
A young man walked over to her later and said, "I see you're a double B K like me."
Amy didn't know what he was talking about. She didn't know if he was referring to her Burger King hamburger or what.
He explained, "A double amputee below the knee."
She said well she guessed so, although she had never really thought of it like that.
The guy said, "I have a question for you. How do you long-jump?"
Well now Amy thought that was a funny question, but she told him that she ran as fast of she could down the lane, thrust her body forward at the line, and just hoped that she landed on her butt in the sand pit. It was really quite simple.
And the guy said, "No! Double amputees aren't supposed to be able to long-jump. You see, you have to have at least one leg to project from."
Well Amy looked at him and said, "Well, nobody told me."
How many of us put on our own limitations on ourselves? We do it all the time. You know that little voice in your head saying, "You can't do that." Or we take the easy way out with excuses about why we can't do something. So as you move forward from here, think about what you can do. Don't set your own limitations. When you reach an obstacle, step back and find a new path. I've used this philosophy over and over in my personal and professional life, and I can assure you that it works better than anything else. So the future is yours. Take some time to celebrate, but then get busy and start heading in the direction that you set for yourself.
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