Alannah Atauvich-Callahan graduated from the University of Oklahoma with both a Bachelors and Masters Degree. Ms. Atauvich-Callahan has worked for the United States Census Bureau. Alannah is currently considering a Doctorate or professional level degree.
1. Describe your parent(s) and how they inspire you?
My parents are actually my grandparents. When they got married, they already had their children from previous relationships and met later in their lives. But, the instant they met they wanted to be together for the rest of their lives and even though they couldn’t have children together, my grandmothers son (my dad) was overseas for the us navy and could not take care of me when I was born. My grandparents instantly took over guardianship of me and this decision only solidified their relationship and gave me the stability and love I deserved as a child.
They inspire me because grandfather worked sun up to sun down so we could have what we needed. Yes, it was difficult living paycheck to paycheck but grandmother worked tirelessly to take care of her sick mother and me, a child that wasn’t even hers. They inspire me most with their tough mental attitude and their perseverance in difficult times. It seems they had an answer for any problem or obstacle that came along and I knew I could always count on them. Their strength was a quality that transferred over to my personality and for that, I am forever grateful.
2. What do you appreciate most about your parent(s)?
What I appreciate the most about my grandparents is that no matter what the situation was with my mother and through all of the hard times we went through grandmother never felt sorry for Me or the problems at hand, Even if she did, she never mentioned it or showed any sign of weakness no matter the difficulty. She never made me out to be a victim or a lost cause or some sort of charity case. I was never, ever allowed to feel sorry for myself or hang my head in sorrow for someone else’s choice (my mothers). I learned from my grandparents that life goes on and if you let issues or people get to you, then that issue has defeated you. In other words, never let someone else steal your power or your joy….
3. Reflect on the time you shared that you became a GMS scholar with your parent(s).
I’ll never forget the day I came home from school. I drove up my driveway and ran to the mailbox. Immediately, I felt a thick envelope in the mail pile and rushed up the front porch to grab my grandparents and inform them that the mail had come. Then, I saw it….that GMS packet and I thought for sure that it was another essay I had to write or some more forms to fill out. I opened it up and then I read the word “Congratulations!” I don’t think I remembered anything else the letter said. I just remember my heart dropping and my life flashing before me; every time I got bullied at school, every teacher who treated me different because the popular kids didn’t like me, every time I wondered about my biological mother, all the times my father missed my basketball games, the sexual abuse I endured and all the times we had to save and count pennies so I could compete in pageants-all flashed through my mind at once. It was almost like an out of body experience where I saw my past AND my future in an instant. And, even in that moment I still didn’t grasp what it meant to be a Gates scholar. I looked up and my grandparents were standing there in anticipation and I showed them the letter from Gates. Grandmother immediately teared up with excitement and my grandpa just stood there and smiled. All they could say was: “I’m proud of you…I knew you could do it.” Thanks to my grandparents and the Gates scholarship, my life has been blessed beyond belief and I was able to live a life I never would’ve thought was possible….