- Joined: Toastmasters: September 1995
- Clubs: Leighton Buzzard Speakers Club; Luton Speakers Club; Luton Communicators
- Roles: Club officers roles and activities since I relocated to England in 2007
- Area Director ( 2011-2012)
- President – 3 times
- Vice President of Education – 8 times
- Vice President of Membership – Once
- Vice President of Public Relation – Once
- Sgt-at-Arms – Once
- Support new clubs: Two
What did it feel like when you earned your DTM and how did I celebrate?
If there was a movie about my TM career it would be called ‘The Long and Winding Road’. I only joined my corporate TM club because I was painfully shy. I had no thoughts of accomplishing an DTM achievement. My goal was only to speak in public without being physically ill. I never thought my speaking skills were good enough to earn my DTM. It was only with encouragement of fellow TM members did I submit the remaining documentation for my DTM award. I felt that the DTM award gave creditability to myself that I have improved since that day 23 years ago when I entered my first TM meeting.
My DTM celebration was as equally ‘long and winding’. Two primary members from Luton Speakers Club (Nike Ogundana and Vinette Hoffman-Jackson) gave me a surprise DTM party. Among the many guests were Kevin Lee, Red Skelton, Steve Wellman and so many more. The best part was that the organizers contacted my children from the States via Skype to share in the activities and to my friends from the States who could not attend but sent their best wishes and memories. My fantastic DTM celebration alone was enough to make hours working toward the DTM achievement worthwhile.
What was your greatest personal achievement on the journey to your DTM and why is so special to you?
In 2000, when my youngest child left the nest, I also wanted to stretch my wings. I decided to attempt joining the US Peace Corps. I was interviewed and assigned to work on Youth Programs (among other projects) in the refugee area of the Philippines. Everyone has strengths and issues. My issues is pronunciation of unfamiliar words – if you heard me attempt Welsh names, you understand my situation.
I studied for 6 weeks Taglog (a Filipino) language. Whereas I could speak a few sentences, I could not put together a speech to explain the different aspects of our several projects. Through TM I learned the importance of vocal variety, gesturing, timing, etc. I had a translator. However my communication skills was how the families, the youth, and the authorities understood what we could accomplish together. Despite my many ‘handicaps’, I felt that my 2 years were successful.
We started a pre-school learning centre for 90 children; workshops regarding knowledge of computers for young people; started a community public library. Naturally all of these projects (and several additional projects) were accomplished by effective verbal communication skills – regardless of the language. FYI, the US government does not provide any funding for projects. I raised the funds by going to any organization or person who would listen to have them donate. I also learned the art of grant writing. I taught how to write grants to the local religious communities. It has been 15 years since I have left the Philippines. Persons from the Philippines – students and adults – are still in contact with me.
Who was the most influential mentor(s) on your journey and why?
One was a TM member and another was not. When I was struggling to communicate effectively in my job as an IT Project Manager my supervisor gave me several opportunities to advance. I was less than successful. Instead of washing his hands and moving on, he suggested for me to join our newly formed corporate Toastmasters Club. He did not make me feel that I was flawed. He empowered me to improve my career options. His style of ‘mentorship’ is what I wanted to become.
Another influential mentor was a TM member: Nancy Miller. Nancy joined my original TM club prior to myself. When I struggled with speaking in front of the club, she encourage and stood with me though the panic attacks and tears. If it wasn’t for these two people as my mentors, I would have never obtained any of my goals.
Having achieved the highest educational award that TMI can bestow, what new goals are you looking forward to?
There is no ‘new’ goals I am looking forward to. My goals are the same. I know from first hand experience, the pain of not being able to communicate via the way a person wish to communicate – what is in their heart and mind. My goal is to work with others to assist them to find the techniques which works for them. There are many teaching avenues which have already been identified. However I am seeking the avenues which are yet to be discovered.
What tips or advice do you have for members on the DTM journey?
Identify why you are making your journey.
Do not be afraid to change in mid-journey if your ‘why’ changes.
The hardest activity for anyone to do is to ask for ‘help’. However it is the number #1 I tip I can offer. Do not struggle until you are ready to give up. Ask another member; club or resource their opinion on how to approach a situation.