Who or what was the biggest influence on your path?
When I was 9 years old, our apartment building had to be evacuated because of a basement-to-roof fire in hte building across the alley. We were given 10 minutes to get whatever belongings we wanted to take with us in case our building burned down, too. My mother spent the entire 10 minutes wrapping up our parakeet so he wouldn't get sick from being exposed to the outside air when we left the building. She told me that he couldn't take care of himself and that we had an obligation as his caregivers to protect him to the best of our ability.
While the parakeet was always a member of our family and never a pet, that left a permanent impression on me as to how important it is for humans to live up to our obligation to protect animals under all conditions with no excuses. As it turned out, we didn't have to leave the building after all, but the respect my parents showed for our parakeet is still one of my most memorable impressions.
My father also told me on a regular basis that a woman can do most anything a man can do, except that she'll ususally do it better becasue she'll put a special kind of heart into it. Both my parents taught me that with a kind heart and the will to do good in this world, anything can be accomplished.
All these examples have given me the confidence to stand up for what is right, and that is also how I am able to be as audacious as I need to be in order to make a positive difference.