Hello Children of Earth,
I am a product of those who came before me and those who I've had the pleasure of learning from. It has always been evident to me how truly blessed I am to have learned from this group of individuals. If we are all but products of those we encounter, I am poised to be a force of a generation. Because I have been shaped by a compilation of some of the finest individuals who exist today. For the sake of your sanity and mine, narrowed these individuals down to ten.
1. Angelica Howard
I don't think anyone is surprised by my number one. This woman is the only individual alive I would kill for, but it wasn't always this way. Back in middle school, I hated the thought of having to follow behind the greatness that was my sister. She was good at everything, and the thought of living in her shadow actually scared me. It wasn't until I began to really look at my sister that I realized the immense work ethic it took to be that talented. That is a work ethic she instilled in me. My sister is my biggest fan and continues to be best friend. She inspires me to produce work that I can be proud of. If you're going to half-ass it, what's the point?
2. Jeannette Howard
Number two should come as no surprise, because my Grandmother is....well, amazing. This woman would go to bat for any of her children/grandchildren (as has at one point or another.) This is one of the few people I've encountered who are truly selfless. She would sacrifice anything for me and it's that tireless devotion to family that I see as inspiration. In addition to being devoted, my grandmother is one of the realist people you'll meet. Unapologetic. She'll tell you like it is and have qualms about doing so. In the words of grandmother: "Don't say anything you can say twice."
3. Jarob Gilliam
This child tops the list of important non-familial persons in my life, for many reasons. Jarob is one of the most naturally gifted people I've ever met in this life. The intellect, the ability, the potential for greatness is off the charts. I cringe at some of the decisions you make, but I admire you for making them. While I may not agree, I respect most everything you do because it requires balls. You've said- screw the path less traveled. You've built a hover car and have forged a new flying lane- and that is going to take you to the moon and back.
4. The Jennings
As a unit, you're probably the single most insanely talented family that exists on the planet today. I've know you all since I was a little tyke, and you all have made profound impacts on my experience. Momma J is a goddess, the epitome of the word "networking". If you know someone important, chances are she not only knows them, but helped them get their job. There is a work ethic that I strive to emulate daily. Blake is flawless. I've watch him grow into his own and truly begin to his mark on the world. You remain humble through it all. You are a true force of genuine kindness and that is rare. Brenna, my darling, is everything. An idealist with a work ethic and talent to take her to the far stretches of the excellence. I continue to be amazed by the things you do and the person you are.
5. Suzanne Bardwell
Bard is one of those people you were glad you knew in the moment, and are even more glad you know looking back. This is where the love for journalism began. I'm continually amazed by your passion and dedication to this craft and you've really helped shape the course of my life in a profound way. You raised a print boy, and I'll always be that. But you may see this face on tv one day, if all goes according to plan. Words to live by: "Always tell the truth. Excuses are for the lesser among us."
6. Nikki Seimears
It's crazy to think how much time I've spent getting to know you over the past few years. You molded not only a debater , but a competitor in every way. Your teaching made me the collegiate debater I am today and for that, I'm eternally grateful. I will never forget the attitude you had going into tournaments with our team those last three years. There was no question, there was no doubt. We were walking out of there with hardware. That confidence is my ability is something that rubbed off and has allowed me to transition into this new debate world without a hitch. Forever a child of Seimears.
7. Marissa Cooper
You are one of the only people I could talk on the phone with for 4 hours straight and not go crazy. The one I can talk to about anything. You are one of the realest people out there because you refuse to lie to yourself. Your realistic mindset is something that atttacted me to your personality in the first place. We're apart now, but you continue to be that friend I know I could call on if ever I needed it. Rock that spotlight and stay on the apron. It's where we belong.
8. Jean Marie Brown
Oh Jean, you're amazing. The immense support you provide is something special. You have a way you inciting excellence in your students that I find truly amazing. You continue to be an inspiration to me as a journalist and as a human being. You have no problem telling me like it is in a world that seems allergic to the truth. You're going to help me break into this world of journalism, I have no doubts.
9. The Family
Family, you serve as an amazing support system for me, even now while I'm at school. It's insane to see how much you guys support my endeavors here and Uni and beyond. We'll always be scattered around, but you'll forever be in my corner.
10. Future Me
My future self is forever shaping the course of my life and actions I take. I have a vision for what future me will look like, and I am constantly making sure my actions sync up with the end goal. It's not as elaborate as it used to be, but I know what I want. And if anyone knows me, they know I will never be stopped.
These 10 "people" are just a few of the thousands upon thousands of people who have made my life what it is. This unique combination of souls coming together to influence mine and forever mold Donald.