DOLE ACADEMY (DA): Hi Becky. Thank you for agreeing to talk to us today.
BECKY: Thank you for asking me. I’m excited to be here and talk with you.
DA: What can you tell us about where you were born?
BECKY: I was born in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. I spent my youth in St. Louis County. The county of St. Louis begins at the edge of St. Louis City. The City of St. Louis is on the Mississippi river. As of 2013, the city had a population of 318,416. The county had 1 million residents. Shortly after marrying, I moved to the Illinois side of the Mississippi where I remained for about 20 years. I’m now back in Missouri residing just outside St Louis County limits..
By Daniel Schwen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
St Louis night sky as seen from Illinois. Pictured: Busch Stadium, Gateway Arch, Old Courthouse and the Mississippi River.
BECKY: My family is an important part of my life. All my grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunt, uncle and most of my cousins also live in the St. Louis area. I have a 22 year-old daughter. Her name is Erica.
DA: What are your dreams for Erica? Anything you hope she will accomplish?
BECKY: Like any mom, I dream huge for her. I sometimes forget that it’s important for her to want it too. So I would have to say my biggest dream for her is that she’s happy. I want her to feel free to become what she wants in her own time frame and to enjoy the journey at least as much as the destination. Most importantly, I want Erica to love herself and never settle. I want her to be brave enough to always strive for more yet be satisfied with herself when she has done her best.
DA: Do you have any childhood memories that stand out?
BECKY: Most of my memories of my youth revolve around my family. Many of my memories include my older brother, Greg. He’s 16 months older than me. So I was always one grade behind him in school. That was a lot to live up to! Not only was he super smart, he was also outgoing and popular. It seemed to me he was good at everything he did.
When I was young, we didn’t have electronic devices to entertain us. Television channels were limited to three good channels and a few more that would sometimes come in. Our home only had one television set and that was for the adults except for Saturday morning cartoons and a few special occasions. So we had to make our own fun. One of my favorite activities was playing school. I was the teacher and all my dolls were my students. They were very well-behaved students! I also liked to play with trucks in my front yard. I would dig roads for them and pretend we had lots of important jobs to do. Greg and I would sometimes work on a hole we had. We were planning to dig to China. We never made it.
There were no such things as cell phones!
By Ubucle http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/legalcode
This is similar to what our television looked like. There was no such thing as cable.
I also remember a time I was really angry with Greg. We were in elementary school, sometime around first or second grade for me. We lived in a four-room house, so rooms were scarce. My brother and I shared the only bedroom. My parents converted the dining room into their bedroom. Because of the close quarters, Greg and I got on each other’s nerves a lot! One time, Greg was aggravated with me and just wanted to get a rise out me. So he got my favorite doll and hung it by the neck. It worked. He got a huge reaction from me.
I was just as bad. One time I was making myself a bologna sandwich and asked him if he wanted one. When he told me he did, I asked what he wanted on it. Being no more than 6 or 7 years old, I had problems remembering the list of things he asked me to add. So I had to keep going back and ask again. Finally, after the fourth or fifth time, he yelled, “JUST MUSTARD!” So that’s what he got. A mustard sandwich. We still laugh about it. His wife loved to hear the story and now teases him about it.
DA: What was your favorite class when you were in school?
BECKY: I was one of those kids that liked being in school. I’m not very social so being in class and having everything structured meant I didn’t have to try to talk to anyone. So I really liked all my classes except P.E. I’ve never been athletic and never wanted to be. It was one thing that didn’t come to me easily so I didn’t try too hard.
But there were two activities I enjoyed much more than any of the others. They were: free-reading and Algebra.
I love to read. I could never get into the assigned books though. I enjoy reading because of the imagery and being able to get lost in the story. It always seemed to me that the assigned books weren’t interesting enough. I had problems creating mind-pictures about the story so I never could get involved. However, I was reading before I was in Kindergarten. I brought my book to school and read during recess. It was another way to keep from interacting with people. My teacher actually had to write home and tell Mom that I needed to leave my books at home because I was reading TOO MUCH!
I’m also a very logical thinker. I enjoy things that follow rules. So when I was introduced to Algebra, my brain was completely engaged. I had a chalkboard at home and it wasn’t uncommon for me to come home, finish my homework, then sit with my chalkboard the rest of the evening making up more Algebra problems to solve. It was so much fun for me.
BECKY: When I was very young, I decided I would become a veterinarian. I’ve always loved animals and seemed to have a natural affinity with them. Of course at this time, I didn’t know all about biology and chemistry and that I would need to take a lot of it. These were two subjects I didn’t especially enjoy. So I had to rethink my career path before entering college. I still didn’t get it right but at least I was finally thinking about the requirements for my chosen field.
DA: What were your biggest professional influences?
BECKY: I would definitely say my fourth grade teacher and my first part-time job.
Mrs. Gerken, my fourth grade teacher, was one of those teachers everyone remembers. She had holiday parties at her house (back when this wouldn’t cause lawsuits), treated every student fairly, never raised her voice, maintained a well-behaved and curious class without seemingly trying and was always adapting the environment to students’ needs.
DA: What does the future hold for you?
BECKY: My plans for the immediate future are focused on Dole Academy. We are planning to continue growing and reaching out to new students. As we grow, we will add additional instructional tutors. Beyond that, we are researching the idea of becoming a brick and mortar business. My vision for Dole Academy includes servicing over 200 students, hiring full and part-time instructional tutors and offering multiple choices of delivery.
As for myself, I want to return to school to earn a doctorate degree. I’m still researching different degrees but have considered eLearning, reading literacy and adult education.
DA: Do you plan to retire?
BECKY: I suppose at some point I’ll have to, but right now I’m having too much fun to even think about it.