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Celebrating International Women’s Day

Honoring International Women's Day and Women's History Month through personal stories of resilience, growth, and triumph

Sharing our personal stories to #InspireInclusion.

This special platform, Dear Me: Letter to my Younger Self,  features a collection of heartfelt and wisdom-filled letters penned by accomplished women from KPMG. Each letter is a testament to the power of experience, resilience, and growth—serving as a beacon of inspiration for younger generations. 

Our team has come together from across the world. While we are all different, our hopes and dreams for future generations are similar. We are thrilled to share these intimate narratives of triumph, advice, and encouragement from remarkable women to their younger selves. We hope they inspire you as they’ve inspired us. We invite you to post a letter to your younger self on social media using #KPMGIWD.  

Karen Schreiber

“On behalf of all the women across the KPMG Finance Transformation practice, I’m delighted to take a moment to recognize International Women’s Day. As part of our celebration of this important day, I’m joined by women across our firm in reflecting on our personal and professional journeys. As the saying goes, If I knew then what I know now…We continue to grow in our own self-awareness through reflection, and hopefully encourage and inspire others with our knowledge and actions. Today we share these letters to ourselves with you you’ll see a theme of kindness, comfort, compassion and encouragement. I hope you’ll join me in writing a letter to yourself and sharing it on social with #KPMGIWD.”

Dear Me,

Wow, there is so much wisdom and strength that comes with age. Being smart is cool!  Getting straight A’s is great, but have fun along the way.  It’s okay if you don’t get an A.  Everything will work out the way it is supposed to.  Your family may not have the money to take vacations, buy the fancy clothes or the fancy cars.  You have determination, grit, and most of all, the will to succeed.  And you will…in all aspects of your life.  Be patient (I know, not your strong suit).  Breathe…. Your life will be filled with love, success, and happiness…it will happen on the timetable it is supposed to.  And remember, I love you!

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Dawn Bangert

Dear Me,

You are a country girl dreaming of a big city life. You’ll move to the city and visit places around the world that will open your heart and mind. You’ll meet incredible people who will inspire you. Still, you will always be grateful for the rural community that shaped you and gave you the confidence to try. 

You are motivated to work hard. You’ll have some very dirty jobs - experiences that will ground you in humility and gratitude in your future career. Time and again, your work ethic will create opportunities and will pave the way for a rewarding professional life.

You already know you want both career and kids. This will not be easy, but it will be worth it. You will (eventually) learn that you don’t always have to want more. Being a mom will be your greatest gift and your most treasured job. 

Remember to always be kind. You’ll never regret it.

Julie Barrientos

Dear Me,

Stay true to yourself and your goals. Just keep moving forward and don’t worry, your hard work will pay off. You are tough as nails!

How you will be remembered is most important. Treat others how you want to be treated, do the right thing regardless of the consequences, trust your gut, and surround yourself with people who do the same. Don’t waste any energy on negatives; always stay positive!

Listen, mentor, coach, support, and lift women up. Be honest and help them navigate their career progression. Trust me, this is what will be the most satisfying part of your career! And it is okay every once in a while to take in what you have accomplished and celebrate—you deserve it!

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Cathy Bedrick

Dear Me,

You have so much change awaiting you embrace it when it comes. Moving to a town of 5,000 in Indiana might feel like it’s closing off avenues, but I promise you it isn’t. This challenge sets you on a path towards lifelong relationships, educational opportunities, and an exciting career in Chicago that you will love. Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, travel, and try new things; the experiences will only serve to broaden your perspective and enrich your life.

I know that you may be feeling shy or unsure of yourself right now, but I want you to know that one day you will find your voice. You will grow to trust your instincts and become a leader that others will follow and emulate. It may take time, but don't give up on yourself. Your unique perspective and talents will be valuable assets to those around you.

PS — That small town is also the home to your future husband, but you’ll never guess who!

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Lauren Boyman

Dear Me,

You’re in college and trying to figure out what you want to be when you grow up. You want to plan and know what the future holds. You’re watching everyone chasing the same small number of jobs at a handful of companies. What you should know and take comfort in is that there are SO many different ways to be successful, many paths to happiness and endless definitions of success than it appears right now.

You’ll learn quickly that things will constantly change and you’ll get comfortable with that over time. You’ll learn to adapt and build a muscle you didn’t know was as important as it turns out to be — resilience. Have faith, keep going, follow your gut and your passions. Play to your strengths instead of trying to master every skill. And most importantly, know that even
when days are hard, tomorrow is always a new day.

PS–I know it was traumatic but being in the marching band built character!

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Carin Campos

Dear Me,

I know you cannot envision your future now—that is because there is so much in your path that is different from anything you’ve seen so far. Think of it as the unknown-unknown and embrace it!

You see the world through a unique lens, and that is a gift. Nurture your gift by enjoying the journey you’re on, the rewards will come along the way. Take heart in knowing that different is just different, not better or worse. Keep looking for experiences where you can both learn from and teach others. When you see an opportunity you want, ask for it. When you are offered one that scares you, take it.

Make plans and know that plans will change. Accept help—especially when you think you don’t need it. Do what is right, even when it’s hard. 

Trust yourself. Listen more. Love unconditionally. Pay it forward.

Shannon Carstens

Dear Me,

Poised, quiet, sweet and loves to read.  That is often how you are described.  But you know there is so much more to you than that.​

First of all, your quiet nature is not a weakness.  Your ability to observe and listen is an asset that helps you build relationships and understand what others need.  Second, stay true to yourself, but don’t be afraid to break out of your comfort zone.  When you run for class president, don’t vote for the other person because it seems like the nicer thing to do.  Stand up for yourself and let other people know who you are. Say yes to fun or challenging opportunities that come your way.  You will far more regret the things that you declined, rather than the things you did.  Don’t worry about being embarrassed - everyone is paying more attention to themselves than they are to you.   ​

You can do whatever you set your mind to and you can and will be great!​

And a few other things: wear sunscreen every day, buy Apple stock, stop taking ballet before you ruin your feet, and go ahead and call that guy that hits your car.  He will be your husband.

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Katie Dahler

Dear Me,

Shakespeare said, “And though she be but little, she is fierce.”

You too are fierce. There is a courage inside of you that you can’t see yet. But it’s there! It will lead you in a direction that you never thought you would take, and it will take you further than you ever thought you would go. It will allow you to meet people all over the world and make an impact on many people’s lives. And you will love that! It will allow you to become comfortable being your own version of you. Embrace that! Push for your dreams, try new things, be okay with not being right every time, ask questions, and take every opportunity to learn.

And you will be a mom someday and will tell your children what you wish you had said to yourself. Be fierce, believe in yourself and, most importantly, find your JOY.

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Lisa Daniels

Dear Me,

I know things are not always easy and school is particularly challenging right now, but remember that you are stronger than you think, and you have the power to overcome any obstacle that comes your way if you put your mind to it. Know that you are loved and remember to show love and kindness to others as well, as it will bring joy to both their lives and yours.

As you grow older, you will face challenges and setbacks. But don't let them discourage you. Embrace those challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Believe in yourself for you are capable of achieving so many wonderful things. Have faith in your abilities and never be afraid to pursue your dreams. Remember that failure is not a reflection of your worth, but rather a stepping stone towards success.

Lastly, I want to remind you to always maintain a positive outlook on life. Life may throw curveballs at you, but it's how you respond to them that truly matters. Choose to see the silver linings, even in the darkest of times. Surround yourself with positivity and seek out the beauty in the world. Remember to take time for yourself, to rest, recharge, and find joy in the simple pleasures life has to offer. As you embark on this incredible journey called life, know that you are never alone. I am here cheering you on every step of the way. 

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Corinne Dougherty

Dear Me,

You may not realize it now, but the shy and introverted young girl you are today will transform into a confident and empowered woman. I know the anxiety that comes with social interactions can be overwhelming, but you have the strength to overcome it. Your hard work will pay off, and you will become a successful businesswoman who effortlessly engages with others. Speaking at conferences and webinars—even being interviewed on TV— you will connect with hundreds of individuals at a time.

Those dreams of traveling? They will come true! You will explore the world alongside your loving husband, embarking on trips that will broaden your horizons and fill your heart with joy. You will fulfill your wish to see more of the world and you will create unforgettable memories.

Remember, you are beautiful just the way you are. Over time, you will gain confidence and embrace your uniqueness. Your journey towards self-acceptance will be transformative, and it will empower you to stand tall and shine brightly. And don’t underestimate the power of exercise. It will become a source of strength and centering, boosting your confidence even further.

The path ahead is filled with endless possibilities. Believe in yourself and chase your dreams!

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Kelle Fontenot

Dear Me,

To my energetic, crazy, loud, eager, young Kelle,

You have every ability to become whatever you want to be! I know your heart and mind, your determination, your attention to detail and order, and your ability to plan and drive. You have shown this throughout your early years on this earth and you will continue to do that. I do want to coach you on a few things that will make the journey even that much better:

STAY TRUE TO YOU – The world is a hard place to grow up. Study hard and push yourself. Find a core set of friends, depend on your faith, and develop hobbies that you love. When you are tempted to give up or have hard decisions to make, go back to the core of what makes you different your foundation. When you reflect on the joy in your life, I guarantee, it will come back to the times you were able to be yourself. 

DREAM BIG – You have no idea the opportunities you will be given. You will have the ability to take chances and make decisions for yourself. Do not let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. Use your talents and set your sights on the moon. The world is such an interesting place. You will learn and grow from every experience, no matter how small. You can do whatever you set your mind to!

SLOW DOWN – You will have the ambition to finish college early, sprint through your MBA program, get your first professional job and you will succeed. You don’t always have to be first and you will not always win, no matter what your aspirations are. You have to enjoy the journey. Spend more time having an extra cup of coffee with your parents, sitting at your sons’ games, fully relaxing on a vacation with your husband, reading an extra 50 pages in a book even when you should be sleeping. You won’t ever get the time back. Enjoy every season of your life. You will miss it when it is gone.

And finally, no one will care about your accomplishments but you. People will care about the way you made them feel when they spent time with you. Always remember that.

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Dana Foote

Dear Me,

I'm proud of you. Your determination and resilience have carried you through every obstacle that has come your way. From the moment you were adopted at just two months old, you faced a world that seemed determined to test your limits. Despite early hardships, you embraced eternal optimism and learned to work hard, proving the naysayers wrong.​

High school wasn't always easy, but you used doubts as fuel to show just how capable and resilient you are. Your involvement in the 4H club instilled strong leadership skills and a sense of community. You have taken the 4H pledge, “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country and my world,” as guiding principles. College brought self-discovery where you found your passion for accounting, leading to a successful career as a partner at KPMG.​

Throughout your journey, you've embraced wellness practices, mentoring others and letting go of negativity. Your involvement with the MS Society, inspired by your mother-in-law's battle and your own experience, has allowed you to make a difference. As a mother and wife, you've created a loving and supportive family, instilling resilience, hard work and compassion in your children.​

Remember, dear younger self, you have the power to overcome any obstacle. Your journey is a testament to the strength of the human spirit and the power of resilience. Keep pushing forward, leaving the world in a better place than when you found it.

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Sommer Frazier

Dear Me,

Determination, hard work and ambition will get you anywhere you want to be in life, but don’t let importance of the destination keep you from enjoying the journey.  Stay positive, have fun and be the woman others look up to.  It ain’t easy, but when the going gets tough, just breathe….it’s all gonna be okay! 

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Emily Frolick

Dear Me,

You’ll worry you are too tall, not smart enough, and that no one will like you. You’ll try to be perfect and seek the approval of too many. The only opinion that matters is your own, and nothing really matters that much. Resist the urge to let fear hold you back. Take risks, learn from failures, and surround yourself with positive and supportive people. Make it your mission to have fun and go with the flow. You’re going to surprise yourself so often you will make your own head spin. Enjoy the ride!

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Julie Fults

Dear Me,

You are just a girl in a small-town world. You will have ambition and curiosity for learning building over the next 10 years. Grasp on and run with it!! Don’t fear it. This ambition and thirst for knowledge will take you all over the world, expose you to so many beautiful cultures and will give you that loft style apartment in the big city you love in shows. It’s going to be scary at times, but have courage and keep taking chances and saying “yes” and you will experience the adventure of a lifetime. And sweet girl, you will be that woman that others look up to, admire, seek guidance from. The way you open your arms and heart to others is the foundation of your leadership. Stay true to yourself. And never let anyone dull that light you bring. 

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Courtnie Ghinaudo

Dear Me,

Hey June Bug! All the days behind the cash register and keeping up with the books at the meat market will pay off! You will encounter pressure situations throughout high school and college sports, tackle them head-on. The life lessons you learn from sports will continue to guide the leader you become. Don't worry about your rebellious spirit; it's welcomed more than you will ever know! A few things to remember along the way:Always put family and faith first; your dreams and career will be there. Stay the course; change will take place and you will come out stronger. Continue to have the courage to speak up; this world needs more leaders like you advocating for yourself and others. I leave you with the family motto you put your son to bed with every night, “be kind, be honest, be a good person.”

Kirsten Hill

Dear Me,

Always remember that you are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to. Stay true to yourself and follow your passions, no matter how difficult it may seem.

As you continue to grow and explore the world, don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes. You’ll never know what you might discover or learn unless you try. And when life throws you a curveball, try to find the humor in the situation. Sometimes all you can do is laugh and carry on.

Remember to cherish the little things in life a warm hug from a loved one, a beautiful sunset, or a good book. These small moments are what make life so special. 

You have a bright future ahead of you, full of adventure and excitement. So, keep your head up, don’t sweat the small stuff, and always remember to laugh.

Maura Hodge

Dear Me,

Your mom was right – you don’t have time to do it all – skipping trumpet lessons was a good idea. Wear your retainer, don’t get the perm. ​ ​Actively fight the stereotypes. You define who you are and how you operate, which leads to confidence and success. ​ ​It gets harder to freely give your time, words of encouragement and money, but generosity leads to joy. Community is your lifeblood – invest in establishing healthy relationships everywhere you go. ​ Rarely is a decision black and white – your values help you navigate the inevitable shades of grey.​ You will get to travel the world and live in a city – but don’t burn bridges because you’ll love going back home and sharing the country with your kids.

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Jeanne Johnson

Dear Me,

Wag more, bark less. Be grateful louder, more often, and to more people. Take moments along the way and be satisfied. Don’t prove all the Gen-X stereotypes to be true.  Ask curious questions, listen and learn, and swap more stories.  Congratulations on applying what you learned from your time on the debate team and systematically thinking through problems from different angles. If you could also combine that with what you learned from running track – what a dynamite combination! Timing is everything; manage your pace to match the race. Knowing when to set the pace, run with the pack, and when to kick it in gear for the “WIN” will be useful again and again to make the most of your time and talent. Girl, you have talent. Keep seeking teams that appreciate it and trust using it. You were sponsored and given extraordinary opportunities to do things well beyond your age and experience. Not everyone gets those opportunities, so pay that forward with each and every step, and share those experiences, big and small, with others.

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Stacy Keating

Dear Me,

Be open to new opportunities. You won’t know if you like something unless you try it. By trying something, you don’t need to be committed to it forever, but enjoy the experience and then decide what you want to do next. In doing this, stay focused to your goals and leverage these experiences to ultimately meet your goal, maybe just a different way or by taking a different path. ​ Never stop learning as that is one of the most exciting things in life. Try to learn something new each and every day. Be true to yourself while understanding others’ points of view and learning from them. But always believe in yourself.

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Colleen Kennedy

Dear Me,

As it turns out, being a middle child won’t be so bad. Your ability to listen and examine a situation from different perspectives diffuse conflict, and drive compromise will greatly benefit you in all aspects of your life. You’ll find you enjoy solving complex and unique problems and end up creating a fulfilling career guiding leaders through transformative change (although be prepared for some days to feel as though you are also acting as their therapist…).

New and exciting adventures await you! Charge forward with courage, conviction, and vulnerability. And when you reach moments of doubting yourself, always remember you got this.

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Lisa Littleton

Dear Me,

Never fear, you will learn to speak English and take kindergarten by storm. Don’t shy away from your Italian heritage and culture. Embrace it! It plays a critical role in shaping who you are and how you connect with people, personally and professionally, throughout your life.  

You are strong, independent, and eager to learn. These attributes serve you well as you go through the ups and downs of life. Never fear the storms, trust me… you weather them like a champ!  In fact, you come out the other side even stronger and more confident.

And while being an economist seems like a great idea right now, it’s not! While you find this out in college, save yourself some time, and pick a different major, like marketing. Lean in to your love of entertaining and welcoming people into your home. Never stop opening your heart and home to others. Your love for all people and making them feel loved and special, helps many people along their life journey. 

And lastly, have that piece of chocolate cake, you are loved just the way you are. 

Angie Lookabill

Dear Me,

Being the youngest of six from an immigrant family, I know you don’t have much and look different than most. Remember to embrace your culture, appreciate what you have, cherish this time with your siblings and recognize how much your family sacrificed so you could live the American Dream. 

Know that you can do anything if you work hard, be kind, keep learning and stay true to yourself. It’s okay to make mistakes! How you learn and grow from those mistakes will make you the woman you are one day.

You’ll have your own family someday, and with a strong work ethic instilled in you, you’ll provide a life you could never have imagined when your parents came to the United States, where we didn’t always have gifts at Christmas, and only wore hand-me-downs. 

Be proud, don’t be afraid. You are strong, you are smart, you are worthy.

Lisa Madden

Dear Me,

Those freckles EVERYWHERE on your face will fade and you won’t have to apply CoverGirl foundation with a trowel each morning to hide them. You’ll generally be successful in getting your father’s courage and sense of humor and your mother’s kindness and love of being a mother. You’ll buck women's trends on par with your mother’s secretly getting driving lessons and a driver’s license in the 1943 without telling her father. 

It will turn out that your husband is right when he cautions that you may not be happy as a stay-at-home mother. Your competitiveness and perfectionism might drive your husband and children crazy if 100% of it is turned inwardly toward the family. You need the outlet of your purpose-driven, highly complex work at KPMG to engage your mind and your leadership of practice areas of talented KPMG professionals to apply your “mothering” skills at scale. 

You don't need to respond to your work emails so much at night or think about work so much during your off hours. That said, your kids will later tease you that the more you were focused on your work emails at night, the less you bother them about cleaning their bedrooms or do the dreaded re-review of their school essays. You’ll live a joyous, faith filled life.

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Sadaf Majahid

Dear Me,

Yes, I know, I know, you are definitely sheltered and in a bubble. You don’t know how to swim, you don’t know how to ride a bike, your family doesn’t have a car, but that passport you’ve had since you were 9 months old is going to be your LIFELINE. Oh and planes too!​

You are going to be blessed with so many chances to get exposed to the beauty of this world, meet people from everywhere, travel far and wide, and eat all kinds of goodness from different cultures. Take every chance you stumble across. ​

You’re going to recognize your value, and then nothing will stop you.​

Stay humble. ​

Stay patient.​

You’re an introvert. There’s power in that.

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Donna Meshaka

Dear Me,

You are a young girl in an old-fashioned family that is rich on traditions and values, but you are a girl who challenges the norm and expects more. That is okay! You should be proud and continue to be strong. It’s okay for a woman to want a career and a family. It’s okay for you to be at the table having conversations with your male counterparts. You can do it! As mom has always said, “you are a spitfire.” Be strong and confident but don’t lose your tremendous empathy and compassion for those around you. Trust your instinct, it’s usually right. Don’t let others pull you down when you fail at something (and you will). Learn from what you failed at. It is a real test of your ability to grow as a person and a professional.

Little girl, be gentle with yourself. Focus on what matters: family and your core values. Do your best always to make the world a better place than when you came into it.  

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Laura Newinski

Dear Me,

From the beginning, you always knew you wanted to be in business. Those summers you spent de-tasseling corn as a teenager in Iowa – first for a big agri-business company and then as your own boss – will teach you the most basic and most important business lessons: work hard and passionately, find purpose in what you do, and be a servant leader who finds success in the success of others. It’ll also put you through college! Pay attention to what you learn, as those lessons will be your guide through the ups and downs throughout your career.​

Along the way, think of your career like a jungle gym, not a ladder. When you’re on a jungle gym, sometimes you’ll be in a place to grab for a bar – to really stretch out of your comfort zone. At other times, like when your kids are little or when you’re caring for your aging parents, you might need to just hold on to the bar right in front of you. You’ll gather and accumulate experiences this way, not just promotions, all of which will help you grow into a better decision-maker, leader and person. ​

Invest your time and energy wisely, not only in your own growth but also in your relationships with your family, community, and colleagues. Those networks will be invaluable as you run toward your professional and personal goals. Lean on them for mentorship and support, and then pay it forward – you’ll find your greatest professional success at times when you are immersed in helping others be their very best.  ​

In the years to come, a global pandemic will upend life, introducing a new concept called "hybrid-work," supported by technologies that will redefine the workforce. As the COO of KPMG, you will face these challenges and uncertainty by using your values to guide your decisions and leading with care and empathy. By doing so, you will find fulfillment and make a meaningful impact. ​

Finally, remember that life is filled with unexpected twists and turns. Embrace each experience as an opportunity for growth and learning. Trust in your abilities and have faith in the path you have chosen. You are capable of achieving great things and making the difference in the lives of those around you.

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Rachel Paul

Dear Me,

The books you’ve buried your nose in for so long may have developed your curiosity and bucket list, but you’re still going to be amazed at the beauty and diversity that you’ll see as you explore the world.  Your career will take you places you don’t even know are out there and truly can’t imagine today. I can’t wait for you to discover that a small town girl can be a citizen of the world.  

These days, life may feel awkward and like you don’t fit in, but you’ll find your people and your place. Even when your confidence is tentative, you’ll be encouraged by your family and by amazing mentors that you meet along the journey.

You’ll be continually surprised that you will be able to impact others in a positive way, maybe especially on those days it feels like it’s just not working – so don’t be discouraged when it’s not easy.  Just be the person God made you to be, and who He tells you that you are (there will be a song by Lauren Daigle called “You Say” that you should play on repeat).  Don’t spend too much energy paying attention to the nay-sayers; just keep assuming good intent and looking for the bright spot.  

Oh, and your husband will be right:  it’s okay to break the rules every now and then – some of them shouldn’t be rules in the first place!

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Kristin Pothier

Dear Me,

There are going to be times where you feel like you are simultaneously on top of the world and also feel like you are letting people down. Just know, you are not letting anyone down, you are a trailblazer. Keep pushing forward because you are at the beginning of a beautiful journey that brings you great success both personally and professionally.

Through every barrier you encounter, keep your eye on the prize. Your continued drive will influence many women across the globe to pursue their aspirations in consulting and you will blast through the traditional norms at home which will inspire your children to be creative, flexible and brave. Challenges will always present themselves, but your response to the challenge is what brings the success.

PS–Your hair will never, ever be this high again...nor will scientists of the future be able to patch that hole in the ozone layer from all your AquaNet.

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Lisa Rawls

Dear Me,

As a young girl, you loved sprinting through your grandmother's garden, inhaling the fragrances of as many flowers as possible. Today, you realize that it's not about the speed and sheer number of flowers you smell, but about pausing, savoring each bloom, and relishing the moment. Share these moments with your loved ones to enrich your experiences and foster lasting connections to weave our stories together.

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Nikki Reid

Dear Me,

You are a force! I know you feel awkward at times, but I promise your differences make you special. Aim for the stars, but don’t forget to enjoy the ride there. Cherish the moments with your family (especially your dad), because life is short. You will face a lot of difficult days, but please always remember “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and loved more than you know.”

I can’t wait until you see who you become …

P.S. – Don’t stress about being skinny, you’ll gain weight….trust me.

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Elena Richards

Dear Me,

Dream big—you will achieve more than you can possibly imagine. Embrace your uniqueness and talents, for they will carry you through any challenges that lie ahead. You will have moments of doubt, but always remember that failure is not a reflection of your abilities. It’s simply a necessary step toward growth and resilience.

Be a sponge and learn as much as you can. The world is filled with so many diverse cultures, ideas, and perspectives and you have the power to continuously evolve by absorbing as much knowledge as you can.

Cherish and invest in relationships that uplift and inspire you. Surround yourself with kind individuals who believe in your potential and celebrate your success. Be generous with your love and support and remember that true friendships are built on mutual respect and empathy. Speaking of empathy, be sure to embrace it along with kindness, for those are the building blocks of meaningful connections. 

Most importantly, always remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness. Take the time to nurture your inner self and prioritize self-care. 

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Chona Salamero

Dear Me,

Ahhhh, pause, take a breath, and look around you. I know that you are still writing chapters in your book of life. However, Llook at what you’ve accomplished, where you’ve been (79 countries and counting), what you’ve become, and, most importantly, what you’ve learned!  It’s been a very challenging road to be sure, but you’ve come out stronger and most importantly a person who is full of gratitude, laughter, kindness, and courage. The hard work and learnings from all those years of Catholic schooling and your life and career choices have paid off!  You are an independent woman who does what she wants, loves to travel and experience different cultures and cuisines, and also very giving (by the way, you think you’re a cousin of Mrs. Claus during Christmas lol). You’ve had a lot of blessings!

As you continue to add the latter chapters of your book, please continue to breathe, pause, and be grateful. Continue even more to pay it forward and stay true to yourself. Embrace and surround yourself with the people you love. That is the most important thing.

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Claudia Saran

Dear Me,

You will tackle “life events” at your own pace… savor the entire journey and relish every role you find yourself in. It will be a beautiful ride.

Don’t hide your love and appreciation for your amazing family and friends… Shower them with praise, encouragement, kind words and heartfelt gestures whenever you can. Love BIG… there is absolutely nothing bad that can come from that.

Approach every situation and relationship as a learning experience… it might be knowledge/information gained or observation of a particularly effective (or ineffective) communication style… but you will build a wealth of valuable life lessons if you stay observant and open to learning.

Learn what makes you happy and seek out those experiences as often as possible. You are responsible for your own happiness… so start building up a big reserve of happy as soon as you can. Seek out HAPPINESS as defined by you.

Be strong in holding on to your personal values and being true to who you are… in all situations, personal and professional. And, conversely, lead with interest in, empathy and concern for others such a mindset will never lead you astray.

P.S–Your love of big hair will never die… but there are kinder solutions than a perm!

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Rema Serafi

Dear Me,

Growing up as a first generation American, where you spoke a different language at home and had customs that weren't familiar to your classmates, could be tough. It often made you feel like you were on the outside looking in. However, I want you to know that these differences are what will make you stand out later in life.​

Witnessing your parents' work ethic as emigrants, including your mother's successful career as a medical doctor, their devotion to family and friends, and their generosity of spirit, will show you what is possible. I know you have always imagined following in your mother's footsteps as a doctor, but life has something different in store for you. You will spend 28 years at a Big 4 accounting firm and become the head of over 10,000 Tax professionals in a role that you are truly passionate about. In the process, you will learn that changing your dreams does not mean giving up; it means adapting and finding your passion elsewhere.​

Being an introvert is not a weakness; it is your strength. It allows you to observe and understand situations deeply. Looking back, you will see how being observant, working hard, and valuing family and community prepared you for everything life threw your way. These values will lead to an illustrious career, finding and marrying your soulmate, and raising two amazing boys. Your sons will watch their mother be a role model both as a professional and as a person dedicated to being there for her community of family and friends.​

I know you don't like feeling uncertain, but I also know how wonderful all the unexpected twists and turns ahead will be. ​

I am excited for you to see how it all unfolds.

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Becky Sproul

Dear Me,

You will always prefer carefully crafted plans. But guess what? Life is unpredictable, and things won’t always go as planned or according to your timeline. That will be tough for you, but trust me, you’ve got this!

Embrace change. Change can be scary but also a catalyst for growth and new opportunities. When faced with change, resist the urge to cling to what is comfortable. Instead embrace the unknown and see it as an adventure waiting to unfold. Step outside your comfort zone, challenge yourself and discover new passions and talents you never knew existed.

Let me assure you that it is possible to be a successful professional, a supportive wife and a great mother. Mom guilt fades over time. Prioritize the moments that truly matter. Make the most of the time you spend with your future kids by being present and attentive. Be there when it counts, cherish the small moments and create a loving and supportive environment. They will be remarkable individuals.

Embrace the journey, and remember, it’s okay not to have it all figured out right now.

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Carole Streicher

Dear Me,

Since you were a little girl you have wanted to be an accountant and to make a difference in people's lives through your work. I am so proud of you for having that dream and pursuing it with passion because anything is possible!

But you should not limit yourself to just being an accountant. There are so many opportunities out there that you can explore and make a big impact on the world. Dream big and push the boundaries. Don't be afraid to take risks and try new things. There will be setbacks and obstacles along the way, but these are just opportunities for growth. You will learn from your failures and become a stronger person.  Learning new skills, networking, and collaborating with others are keys to your future success. Don’t be shy to ask for help or seek guidance from mentors along the way – they too are critical to your growth and success. Stay curious, keep learning, and keep growing.

Remember, you are capable of achieving anything you set your mind to. So, go ahead and dream big! Blaze a trail forward and make a difference in the world in your own unique way.

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Sandy Torchia

Dear Me,

The world is wider and bigger than you can imagine, and there are so many more opportunities than what you can see right now. Although no one in your family went to college, you can. Your dreams are not limited not by where you live or where you came from – in fact your roots will be one of the best parts of you, so don’t forget them.

Your mom and dad will teach you invaluable lessons – put in the work, dream big things and stay true to your values – and those will help you become the kind of woman you want to be. Stay passionate too; that trait will come in handy one day and inspire others to follow your lead.

I know all you want right now is to move away from your small town, and you will.
You’ll get to travel the world, and live in big cities, meet wonderful people and do the
most amazing things. Keep dreaming and stay curious because the possibilities are endless. 

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Anita Whitehead

Dear Me,

Little do you know, but you have so many amazing experiences ahead of you. Though life won't turn out exactly how you imagine, it will ultimately be better than your wildest dreams.

The values that your family is instilling in you will guide your decisions and allow you to make the difference. One day, your thoughts, ideas, and opinions will help people, businesses and communities. Remember to embrace your culture, but don’t be afraid to break the mold.

It’s okay that you’re shy, but know that when the time comes, you don’t need permission to speak your mind. You are strong, smart, brave and the world deserves to hear from you. When you grow up, you will inspire other little girls struggling to find their voice, and serve as a role model.

Most of all, enjoy the journey. 

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