Originally published in Bizwomen, Houston Business Journal
Editor's note: In our conversation this week, we're asking readers what they wanted to be when they grew up. One reader — Katie Mehnert, the founder of Pink Petro, a Houston-based for-profit company that connects women in energy— posted a letter she wrote about her childhood dream to become the first female president. It's written to her 5-year-old daughter, Ally, to mark Hillary Clinton's historic nomination. You can read the post in full below and on Mehnert's website.
Tonight was historic.
When I was your age (5), some 35 years ago, I sat in Paw Paw and Nana’s house, my childhood home, watching a president I came to love. His name was Ronald Reagan. (Mommy actually has written about him a lot. When he died I felt like part of my childhood went with him.) The 1980's were a different time in our history. The Berlin Wall came down, ending the Cold War. And, we lived in times where we didn’t have access to information so readily. But my president and our country and my love of both had me mesmerized. I was engaged, and at a young age of 5, that was pretty rare.
So, I wrote a letter to my president .
I told him I had a dream, my piece of the American dream. My dream was I would become the first female president. In that envelope, along with the handwritten note I sent to him, was a $1 bill with a picture of me on my tricycle. Right where Washington’s mugshot would have been. (Your grandparents were proud and told this story to everyone they knew and often worried if they would go to jail for letting me deface that $1 bill!)
Tonight we made history.
I witnessed a woman, Hillary Clinton, step to the stage and accept the first nomination of a female to the nation’s highest leadership role. Amidst heated times in a world with hate, uncertainty and injustices, we are probably embarking upon the most divided election ever in the history of America. (At least in my brief 40-year history…)
As wild as this may sound 35 years later, I tell you this story to remind you of your dreams. You see, your grandparents taught me to dream, but that it wasn’t enough to dream, that you have to #MakeStuffHappen! My mom and dad taught me the value of working hard, standing confident despite having to make unpopular choices, and being a friend to everyone. (It was hard growing up as a kid. Despite being teased and often misunderstood, I was always true to myself.)
And today I am not just dreaming, I am making my dreams come true.
And today I got to see my 5-year old dream come true (and you too will see yours come true). I am celebrating with women and many men across the world as we take this very remarkable step. And while I don’t agree with everything Hillary Clinton stands for, I am so proud to be a woman, your mother, and your grandparent’s daughter.
You said it best, Ally, at 3.
When I was unsure I could make my dreams happen, you reminded me of that confident 5-year-old girl who wanted to change her world. You said all we need to do is reach for the stars.
Never forget — despite all odds, trials, tribulations and setbacks that this life will throw at you — you can and will do whatever you set your mind to.
I love you so very much.