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I have been thinking about an experience I had when I was young that had a formative impact on the direction of my professional life.
When I was in grade school, I volunteered as a crossing guard, helping younger students safely cross the streets before and after school. I cherished this job and took it very seriously.
After serving as a crossing guard for one year, I applied to be a “lieutenant,” which would have allowed me to train and oversee the other student crossing guards. However, I was shocked to be told that girls couldn’t be considered for this role—for no other reason than because we were girls. I couldn’t understand why being a girl would impact their decision – I had the desire and the ability to be a leader, but was told it was a boy’s job. Subconsciously, this experience positively influenced my career; instead of making me accept the role I was supposed to fulfill, it gave me the push I needed to step up in the world. This “girl” had a wonderful career, working together with others to make a difference.
As I near retirement, I reflect on a career that has been both personally and professionally fulfilling, with opportunities that weren’t limited by the fact that I was a “girl.” How fortunate we are to be living and working in these times. The opportunities provided to women since then have expanded exponentially, and the world benefits as a result. Things are not perfect by any means. But things are getting better every day.
I encourage all women look for opportunities to lead—in whatever way possible: in your life, your career, in your community. We’re all the better for it.
Luann Anderson is the director of operations for Pinnacle Actuarial Resources in the Bloomington, Illinois, office. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Illinois State University. Luann’s career includes corporate and not-for-profit leadership. She has also been an active volunteer involved in multiple local and national charitable organizations.
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