by Kimberly Young, Associate Provost for Career and Workforce at UMW
I was recently in a class where I was required to select an artifact that was representative of who I am as a leader. My artifact was an old mixing bowl that belonged to my great grandmother, my grandmother, and finally my great aunt before coming to me. I suppose the passing down of the bowl makes it a family heirloom of sorts. It is an unlikely mark of leadership, but I see it differently.
The mixing bowl was used to make everything from mashed potatoes for Sunday dinners to birthday cakes in customized flavors for children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. From an early age, I was there in the kitchen, my first classroom with my elders watching the culinary miracles happen. This gift of time and proximity to my elders could explain why I value quality time with friends and family over a great meal. It could also explain my love of everything cuisine.
One thing I know for sure is that my time with the elder women in my family over the mixing bowl instilled the importance of education. While we were in the kitchen where they sipped coffee before preparing a birthday cake for one relative or another, I listened to them. I took in the rhythms of their voices as they ebbed and flowed with gossip, points of view about politics, neighborhood happenings, and religion. As a young person—too young to go to kindergarten, I was left in their care while my parents were at work. My torture was being required to learn to spell E-n-c-y-c-l-o-p-e-d-i-a and then be demanded to read the encyclopedia, any letter of my choice. My divine pleasure was getting the opportunity to sit among them, hear the stories they told, and learn to see the world through their eyes. This is where I learned what leadership and living look like.
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