суббота, 29 сентября 2012 г.

Julie Marie Carrier

Miss Virginia USA, Speaker, and Author

We all have a unique calling in life, but it's our job to discover it.

Quick Facts:
• Award-winning national speaker for teens and girls
• Author of the book, BeYOUtiful! The Ultimate Girls Guide to Discovering Your True Beauty!
• Founder of beyoutifulclubforgirls.com; an e-mentoring club to help girls achieve their goals
• Emmy-nominated TV show host
• Crowned Miss Virginia USA 2002
• Started her first company at age 14 to save for college
• Was a senior management consultant in leadership training and development at the Pentagon at age 23
At age fourteen I heard a speaker who changed my life. At the time I was 4'7'' with a high-pitched voice and I was often called a nerd, a loser, and a munchkin — but the message I heard the speaker share that day was something I desperately needed to hear.

Dressed in a white tuxedo, the speaker came into the auditorium that day with such power and confidence that I thought, "Who is this guy?" He began his talk with a bold statement: "I'm wearing my best because you deserve the best. To make the best choices and have the best life."

I've always believed that everything happens for a reason in life. So as I watched this man speak, I knew I was hearing this message for a reason. It was a really tough time for me, and the school bullies were slowly wearing me down and getting into my mind. But after this one school assembly I remember leaving thinking that it didn't matter if I was 4'7" and couldn't get a date to the prom. I did deserve the best and I could make the best choices.

From that point on I began working really hard to stay focused and make the best choices I could. I stayed drug free, set high standards in my relationships and friendships, and became committed to finding out what I was called to do in life. And at age fourteen I decided to start my own company.

Believing we are all given certain gifts and talents, I used my artistic ability to make clay beads. Using an ancient Greek technique, I was able to make funky, uniquely detailed beads, and I began selling them to local bead stores. There was lots of buzz about them because they were so unusual. At age fifteen, I started entering competitions and soon became a nationally renowned bead artist. While I didn't make big bucks, I had the opportunity to get a lot of scholarships for being an entrepreneur and starting my own business. That success taught me how important it is to stay focused and not get sidetracked, and that a person can take something that might seem insignificant, hone the skill, and turn it into a company.

As time went by my goals changed from wanting to be a leader of my own company to having the courage to run for Senior Class Vice President (this of course, would be a huge turnaround for me because I was the class "nerd"). I told my friend from the drama team about my plans and she said, "Sure, why not Julie? You run for VP and I'll run for president!"

I really didn't think a nerd like me could ever be elected, but I knew if I didn't try I would look back and regret it. It was a process I will never forget. Even I was shocked when we won! This made me realize that the whole concept of "the popular crowd" is actually very different from reality. I soon found out that being truly popular means that people like, appreciate, and respect you for who you really are, not because you try to be what everyone wants you to be. That discovery completely changed my world and I learned that being yourself and staying true to what you believe is what ultimately brings rewards in life.

When it came time to go to college I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my life or what major to pick. My family and friends knew I loved animals and they all kept telling me, "Julie, you should be a vet. You would be so good at it." With no other ideas, I finally agreed with them and made getting my veterinarian degree my entire focus. I quickly became so buried in my studies that I never asked myself what I really wanted or what I was really called to do. Every summer of my college career while I studied to be a vet, I volunteered for youth leadership camps and conferences. I had a blast, but I soon noticed that each fall when I went back to my really tough science and math classes, something just didn't feel right.

A year before graduation I was fortunate to receive a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study abroad in Northern England. It was an amazing experience. I was traveling all over England speaking on behalf of the United States to build international goodwill and understanding. While I was in England, away from all the distractions back home, something amazing happened.

I began asking myself if being a vet was really what I wanted to do. I remember that the turning point happened when I was sitting at my desk in my dorm room in England surrounded by a massive stack of biology books and I asked myself an important question: What job would I love so much that I would do it for free? Like a flash of lightning, the veil lifted from my eyes. I felt so stupid when I realized I had already been doing what I was meant to do for the last four years... I had been involved in leadership camps and conferences. I love leadership! I just knew in that instant this was what I was meant to do.

I was now faced with a big decision. I could graduate with a degree in Biology and become a vet, or I could change course and spend two more years getting a degree in leadership. It was a tough decision, but I chose to spend the next two years attending Ohio State University collaborating with three advisers to design and eventually graduate summa cum laude and receive a degree with my major in Leadership Studies.

Everyone wondered what I was going to do with a degree in Leadership Studies. Even when I graduated, one of my friends made a joking comment wondering if I was going to be a "leader" flipping burgers at McDonald's, but I knew I was doing what I was called to do. And although I was afraid I might starve doing it, I kept volunteering at leadership camps and conferences.

At one of the conferences in Washington, DC, I met an individual who provided strategic planning services to the Pentagon. She was looking for someone to do leadership training and development. Unaware there was such a thing as a degree in Leadership Studies, she asked me to send in my resume. Within three weeks I was driving to DC, where I was hired on the spot. I could hardly believe I was working at the Pentagon at such a young age. But it confirmed my belief that when you stay true to your passion, work hard and make positive choices, life does reward you.

I was excited at first, but I soon started having doubts. I began to think that maybe it was a huge mistake believing a young person could help older people with leadership skills. But I recalled the best advice I had ever received from an incredible leader I met in England: Remember your ABC's — Always Be Confident. Even if you don't feel confident, act confident and no one will know the difference.

Although I didn't feel confident, I entered that classroom remembering my ABC's, believing that age did not dictate what I could accomplish. I might have been younger, but I was there to serve my students, and I focused on the fact that I had a fun and interactive training and something valuable to offer them. As a result of being true to who I was, the interactive class I designed and taught was so successful I was asked to redesign all the leadership courses for the group. My contract was renewed so I could teach more leadership development workshops for another three years!

I loved my job, but I still felt a strong desire to do something to help young people. Because of the life choices I made, I was able to experience much success and I felt I needed to share that with other teens. But changing my focus from being a senior management consultant in leadership development at the Pentagon, to speaking to teens, meant I would have to target two very different audiences. To make that change, I knew I had to have a plan. I decided that entering a pageant and possibly winning would make it easier for me to transition from working at the Pentagon to speaking with teens.

My goal was simple: Do my best. I hired a pageant coach, and boy, did she have her work cut out for her. I didn't know how to walk in heels or even apply my make-up, but with her help I was finally ready to enter the Miss Virginia USA contest. I didn't think I would win, but my friends told me just to have fun. I was so nervous that I ended up tripping on my evening dress. So when I was given the title "Miss Congeniality" I was happy thinking that it was a good start and I'd try again next year. Then, much to my surprise, I heard my name called as Miss Virginia USA 2002. I was so shocked they had to announce it twice before I responded!

During the year I represented my state as Miss Virginia USA, I had the opportunity to work supporting our troops, speaking at teen leadership conferences, and attending many girls' events. Those experiences gave me the courage to finally leave my attractive position at the Pentagon. In making that choice, people have asked me if I miss the prestige and money from that job, and I can honestly say, "No." While that experience was a remarkable opportunity and I respect the Pentagon community so much, I have to say that I absolutely LOVE speaking with girls and teens and no amount of money or prestige can ever replace that!

Now I am very excited about my new book, BeYOUtiful! and the beyoutifulclubforgirls.com e-mentoring club that I've formed along with it. It is all about being the "real you," discovering the amazing talents you are born with, and embracing the real beauty — the BeYOUty! — of who you really are. It took me a long time to fully realize this, but I want other young people to know that they are valuable and special just the way they are. This is the core message that changed my life.

The biggest roadblock to our success is self-doubt, but when we are in tune with ourselves we will be less affected by outside forces. I have spent lots of time learning to sort out my own self-doubts from the real truth. When my mind is telling me one thing, I also try to listen to what my heart is telling me. If my mind is saying something that doesn't feel right, I give my heart the veto power. As time goes by, I get better and better at sorting out my self-doubts, which makes the answers clearer and clearer.

Now I am living a life I never dreamed of. People can't believe I've been able to do this at such a young age. The truth is that it all started with the choices I made at age fourteen.

I look at life as though we live in separate chapters. Although chapter one or two might not have been so good, the following chapters can be awesome. Life is truly about choices and ultimately those choices are made by you. That is a fun and powerful responsibility. Take it from me, you can be successful if you listen to your mind and heart, seek your calling, work hard, and persevere. BeYOUtiful!
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