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Stories That Need to Be Told: Reflections on an “Educated” Conference

By Kendall Sommers, IV Form

Stories That Need to Be Told: Reflections on an “Educated” Conference

I recently attended the Women’s Breakfast to benefit Horizons for Homeless Children. Every year that I have had the privilege of attending, I feel empowered by the time I depart. Although each keynote speaker has been different, including authors, poets, and business owners, there is one constant in their speeches: the corrupt financial systems and the corruption in the way that we think. The breakfast opens with a typical video showing the adorable kids who benefit from the organization’s play spaces for families who are struggling with homelessness. Following the video is one of my favorite parts of the day: the speeches. There are typically two speakers who have been in the Horizon’s program and have benefited from their support. This year, a woman named Latica spoke. She is a victim of domestic violence and subsequent homelessness while being a single mother of three children. Her experience is one that would impact with anyone, making every person in the room tear up and feel for her. But she did not want us to simply feel for her and her past experiences, but rather to take pride in supporting a program like Horizons which has helped her support her two twin toddlers and has counseled her in finding a job. The other speaker shared how Horizon’s employed her, leading to her role as a family counselor. These personal stories set the stage for the main speaker for this year, Tara Westover. 

Westover is the author of the best selling memoir, “Educated.” She grew up in Idaho in a Mormon survivalist family. Her parents took on typical patriarchal family roles and raised her and her siblings in a similar way. Growing up, Tara was not allowed to attend school and was abused by her brother. She taught herself enough science, math, and English that she was able to take the SAT and attend Brigham Young University. But, in her interview style speech, Westover neither shared her background story nor described in detail how she got to school or what it was like attending a college after no formal schooling. Instead, she focused on why stories like hers are told. 

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