ACE2019: Tara Westover and Nick Anderson on the Transformative Power of Education


hello everybody here’s the book it’s
been on the New York Times bestseller list now for 54 weeks just looked it up
it’s sitting there right next to Michelle Obama’s memoir on that list
which is pretty swift company and I just read it in preparation for this
conversation and I’m gonna say I recommend it highly it’s truly a
remarkable read there’s a lot of insight in the books and we’re going to talk
about Dr. Westover if I may because Dr. Westover is actually her title and I
know that all of you in the audience will appreciate academic titles that’s
her title but I’m gonna I’m gonna now switch to Tara she has a lot to say
about education and about her own upbringing and so I’m gonna section this
into two parts one about yourself and your upbringing and then we’re gonna
we’re gonna move to education some of the topics that people in this room are
thinking about in terms of their colleges and universities and how they
serve students okay this is a memoir so we should talk about memory right and at
the very outset of the book in chapter one you write– first line in the book in
the first line in chapter one my strongest memory is not a memory it’s
something I imagined then came to remember as if it happened can you tell
the audience or what this strongest memory was it was my experience when I
was four or five years old of Ruby Ridge and the way that my family had
experienced that siege which I don’t know if any of you familiar with it was
sort of a Waco-like thing that happened in Idaho in 1992 and the way my family
experienced our the way I experienced it was that this could have been my family
you know that the the federal government had come in and they were trying to put
this family in prison for not sending their kids to school and for
being separatists and that’s what we were so I I experienced it and my dad
was very fearful at that time it was kind of a scary event so the thing I
remembered was I had a memory of it happening to my family you know I had
I’d been told what had happened to Vicki Weaver because she had been of cour– I
don’t know if you know but she was she was shot when she opened the door to let
her husband in they had snipers surrounding the cabin and she had been
shot while holding her baby and my dad had told us this story and in my mind
that was our family and so I grew up kind of imagining that that had happened or was going to happen and it was a really strong memory this memory
of my mother opening the door but it never happened. It shaped your worldview, right it was not an experience that happened to you but it helped set the table for your
childhood this story about the the feds and they’re surrounding your
house at night and maybe there’s a gunshot and maybe somebody is struck by
a gun and falls right? Well it was a strong perspective on what the world was
like what the federal government was like what my family was like what our
role was and it was a single narrative it was the one perspective and
of course I didn’t go to school I didn’t have access to other narratives or other
points of view so that narrative kind of my dad’s narrative of that incident was
essentially the only narrative I had and so I– my perspective on on the federal
government, on society at large, on my family and our role and all of those
things was pretty much unchanged for a very long time and that memory stayed
with me I mean I was in college I kind of wandered my way into this
university when I was 17 I told them I’d been homeschooled which was a bit of a
stretch but you guys will buy anything if it’s on
the application so I remember we had written my brother had helped me and we
had written that I had completed a rigorous and detailed homeschool
curriculum which was definitely not true and then I was in this university
and I was taking a psych class you know psychology 101 and and the and they were
talking about paranoia and a student asked the professor what role do you
think paranoia might have played in conflicts with the federal government
like Waco and Ruby Ridge and I had never heard the phrase Ruby Ridge that I
remembered but it just lodged in there and I thought I think I know what that
is. And I went–It was an aha moment. I went to the computer lab and I
remember I plugged it into the Google and then I– it was the first time I got
another view of it another way of seeing that a different narrative a different
way of looking at what had happened that was not wildly different from the one
I’d been given but significantly different. So there are many powerful
characters in your book your dad who we just talked about your mom you some of
your siblings one of the characters that you introduced right away is the Indian
princess and Buck’s Peak and it gave me as I was reading the book sort of an
idyllic sense of this place and I wonder if you could just briefly sketch for our
audience what Buck’s Peak meant to you growing up
Buck’s Peak was a mountain I grew up on The Indian princess is this lovely story
that my dad told me when I was little he would say every spring when the snow
melted off to face the mountain he said there’d be a period where you looked at
the mountain from the right angle and you’d see the body of an Indian princess
on the mountain face and she was always looking south watching for the buffalo
to return to the valley and he said the nomadic you know Native
Americans from hundreds of years ago that they had used they’d watched for
that sign for her appearance as a sign that winter was over and the mountain
was thawing and it was it was time to come home so I think when I was a kid
that was I don’t know it was a narrative of belonging it was a sense of return I
was supposed to be there and my family was supposed to be there the mountain
felt permanent my family felt very permanent and then I went to university
and I started to change and suddenly my family were I was moving a little bit
more towards the mainstream and when I say a little I mean very little for the
first couple of years and then my family were actually becoming more extreme and
so there there were kind of two worlds there and the power of the princess of
that mountain and that life was incredible and the– how enticing it
was and how difficult it felt to have any distance from it at all.
She had a powerful pull on you. I mean I she’s she’s a symbol I guess I mean the
mountain is it’s a life it’s my whole family it’s my whole upbringing and I
think education it does it did this to me but I think it does this for a lot
of people it asks you to change I think I think of education as being primarily
about getting access to other points of view many hopefully many other points of
view and not in the sense of finding the right one this is the right narrative
this is the correct history but in getting access to more and then once you
have the 10 or the 12 you sit them side-by-side and you decide what makes
sense to you and that is I think as close as we any of us get really to
making our own minds and that was something I didn’t have as a as a child
I just had the one perspective and then I went out into the world and I had I
had access to all these points of view and that allowed me to change but change
is expensive sometimes not just financially I think there’s often a cost
for real change and I don’t think I’m the only student
who ends up suspended between two worlds in that way I think that probably
happens on some scale to almost everyone if it’s a real education. So before we
leave the subject of your early childhood I think it’s important to
point out that the book deals at great length about some of the trauma that you
have witnessed and experienced the this trauma is really grippingly told there
are people who suffer severe burns there are awful car crashes not one but two. They weren’t super into safety. Yeah the junkyard is a menacing place I wonder if you could just quickly
sketch for our audience here a scene of trauma from say the junkyard to give
them a sense of like where you’re coming from and what your life was like back
then. Just one really a particular one I guess the one and narcissistically the
one that comes to my mind is the one happen to me although actually that’s
not true I think probably the most vivid memory I have is when my brother’s leg
got burned which is he was removing fuel tanks from cars in the junkyard and he
at some point had spilled some gasoline on his leg and then he forgot it’s a hot
day and he lit a torch to continue removing the tanks and of course
the spark yeah my brother Luke and the spark from that caught onto his jeans and
his whole leg was engulfed in flames and my parents they didn’t just not believe
in education there’s a whole range of things they didn’t believe in so I
didn’t have a birth certificate and there’s a whole story about that but
another thing they didn’t believe in was doctors and hospitals they just didn’t
believe in them and so when my brother’s leg was just really badly burned I
mean he was wearing steel-toed boots he couldn’t get the jeans off by the time
that he did get them off and put out the fire he was he was really burned they didn’t
believe in medicine or not in taking him to the
doctor so they treated it at home my mother treated it with a salve that she
made a herbal salve that that’s probably my most vivid memory yeah from of an
injury but it’s um it’s hard for people to understand I think that my parents– my–
it’s not as though my dad didn’t care about his children there was something
else going on and it wasn’t the case that he denied us medical care and then
carted himself off to the doctor probably the worst injury that happened
to anybody in my dad’s junkyard happened to my dad because maybe ten
years later he was removing a fuel tank from a cart we really should stop doing
this and he decided I don’t need to puncture the tank and drain the fuel out
before like that’s like pansy liberals do that and I don’t need to do that and
so he didn’t he just lit a torch and started removing this tank that is full
of gas and gas is flammable so it exploded and he was burned much worse
than Luke had been in his face and his hands he never regained the use of his
right hand and his face was pretty altered and he didn’t take himself to
the doctor so it wasn’t the case that he didn’t care about us and I think that’s
what I think sometimes when we’re trying to help students navigate we forget
maybe that no matter how dysfunctional their family lives are in many cases the
love is real it’s not an absence of love that’s not what’s wrong it’s
something else and maybe trying to help them see just because you love someone
doesn’t mean you need to have them in your life and and maybe the best
way to have respect for love is to respect its limits and to respect that
just because you love someone doesn’t mean you can change them and at least
this is how I found a way to navigate my path but I don’t know is that you’re
going to have much luck convincing them that the relationships are wholly bad
and that there’s no value there because you’re probably wrong
they probably aren’t wholly bad and there probably is some value there and
the choice that has to be made is a really difficult one. Talk to me talk to
me about how you learned to read because you’re such a wonderful writer and you
succeeded to an extraordinary extent in the higher education sphere and I’m
curious in a place in a family where you were barely homeschooled how did you
learn to read. Reading was important in my family because you had to be able to
read the scriptures so I think that would have happened my particular case I
was the youngest of seven so my oldest brother taught me how to read I’m fairly
sure to win a bet with my second oldest brother over how quickly it could be
done so that’s all it took well I think when
you’re the last of seven you’re the only one who can’t you’re motivated. Okay. I
would say I was motivated yeah. There’s a there’s a wonderful scene in the book
I’m gonna talk about college now and how college becomes part of the book there’s
a wonderful scene in the book where your brother Tyler nervously makes an
announcement he says I’m going to college he said what’s college I said
dad interjects college is extra school for people too dumb to learn the first
time around then he adds there’s two kinds of them college professors those
who know they’re lying and those who think they’re telling the truth now I
think this articulates in some ways a worldview that is held by a lot of
people in the United States which is fundamentally suspicion of college you
know a suspicion of the idea of college and I wondered did you at all
feel this suspicion of college or did and how many people did you know who
were suspicious of college? I definitely did how many I knew I don’t know I
didn’t know that many people part of being raised not going to school
is I didn’t actually know that many people but yeah I was deeply deeply
deeply suspicious of college yeah I the way I experienced my brother Tyler going I thought he had gone over to the
Illuminati I thought he’d crossed over I was seven I was seven and that was I
experienced that as a pretty intense betrayal
actually and I noticed he didn’t come home much after that so that was kind of
my yeah I thought he’d gone off to get brainwashed by these people whoever
they were and I think that that’s why I understand I have a lot of sympathy for
parents who worry about education becoming propaganda and I think that
they’re I don’t think they’re wholly wrong
oh I hope I don’t get stoned but I think that idea I said at the beginning
that I think you go to a university to get access to different points of view
and I think that is so critical to what education is and the more that we allow
ourselves to segregate so that only people of a certain kind can afford an
education or only people with certain types of views that we like are going to
be at the university or you know the way that we’re segregating even politically
where people who think the same things tend to live together in a way that they
didn’t before I think is a real problem because schools are geographically based
they tend to be you know the University of Montana will be mostly have a lot
more kids from Montana in it and the more that we segregate so that people who
think one way live in one area and go to one school though I think that’s a
serious problem for education because fundamentally I do think it’s about
getting access to different points of view and it should be the case that your
university education is uncomfortable and awkward and that there are things
you learn that you don’t like and that you learn that there are perspectives on
the world that you don’t like but you learn how to communicate with them and
understand where they come from and maybe even how to reason with them and
what their value is even if you don’t buy into the whole thing I think that
that’s a huge part of what an education is and you can’t have that if everybody’s the same. So there’s a key point in the book
where Tyler comes back into your life and he says to you take the ACT and he
says it’s just one lousy test you know and I wonder if you could talk to us a
little bit about the importance of the ACT to you because fundamentally it was
your credential it was the thing that you that you used to get into
college. Yeah I never had a GED I still don’t have a GED I got a PhD but I don’t have a GED you know the state of Idaho had a weird rule that is you couldn’t take the GED until you
were the age that you would have graduated from high school plus a year
and I was 16 and apparently there’s a way around this you have to get a waiver
or something but there’s no way I would have known about that or did that so I
needed a GED and I couldn’t get one and the only school I’m aware of that takes
kids without a GED is Brigham Young University they will let you in on
nothing no no they’re a good school but for some reason they will just take your
ACT and say well we’re gonna try this and so if I hadn’t scored high enough to
get into BYU I’m really not sure I would have had to wait two years and that
would have been a very long two years You took the test twice just to be sure. I think I wrote about it twice I think I took it four times. Four times okay. I thought
that might get repetitive if I made everyone take the ACT four times who
read my book I’m not sure it would be selling as well. Before before we leave
this subject before we leave this subject though it’s important to note
that there’s a lot of people who are very suspicious of standardized tests
who believe that they are an impediment to disadvantaged students that they’re a
barrier. They probably are. Yeah? They probably help some and really hurt
others you know I mean it’s a specific skill set that some people have and some
people don’t and I’m not sure it translates to intelligence my brother
Richard and I’m not a modest person so when I say this you should believe me
I’m super not a modest person I think he’s smarter than me I think
he’s a lot smarter than me did not do as well as me on that test didn’t do as
well as I did and that is not a measure of
intelligence that wasn’t what it was measuring I think it was his mind does
not conform to anything that I’ve ever witnessed and it’s part of his genius
but he that’s never gonna be picked up on a test and with his I think if he’d
gone to a school and he’d had some help he would have you know it would have
reflected some but with his background no I think that test obscured him rather
than identified him. So you show up at BYU what was it like when you first
arrived? It was like touching down on another planet I mean I’ve been raised
in a really there’s Mormonism and then there’s how I was raised
so I went this like very pious school with all of these people who you know
men and women are separated women wear modest clothing and everyone goes to
church and I just thought they were a bunch of infidels because they did all
this stuff that I had been raised to think was really terrible like wear
capris that was not allowed in my mind and you know they watched movies I
didn’t think you’re allowed to watch they drank soda I didn’t think you’re
allowed to drink so I found it I was kind of terrified I guess I think
there’s a funny thing when I was a teenager in my dad’s house I was super
rebellious and I thought everything about his way of thinking was silly and
then I went off and I became in a new environment I became completely loyal to
his way of thinking and all of my rebellion went completely away and I was
a very strict kind of radical Mormon whereas when I was actually with my
parents I was what was less. You right at one point that you felt like inside
you felt like a freak and that everybody could see that you were a freak. Yeah I’m
people call this a lot of things they call this imposter syndrome I’ve never
used that term and I don’t I don’t identify with that term but I would say
I had a compromised sense of self and I think I think a lot of students do I
actually think any any student who’s had any kind of abusive past that is what abuse it’s super simple what abuse does actually for all the many books that are
written about it all abuse does is it crushes your sense of self that’s what
it does and I definitely had that and it was very difficult for me especially
when I moved from BYU to Cambridge and I had this very well-respected professor
telling me that I was this great scholar and I did not feel like a scholar there
were other things I felt like there were names I’d been called when I was growing
up I felt like those things I identified with those things I did not identify
with this new idea of me and in some ways it was actually pretty painful I
would have had a much easier time if he yelled at me I knew how to deal with
that that would have provoked a very angry response and I would have felt
stronger you know if I was shouting and defending myself but he was so nice to
me that it was actually kind of excruciating and the way he treated me
was so painfully at odds with how I thought of myself that it was actually
really difficult. Was it hard to learn how to be a student at BYU and at
Cambridge? Um the basics yeah I’d never I’d never taken a test besides the ACT
which is not a good one to start with and I’d never written an essay and I’d
never I’d never done any of it so I made a lot of just weird mistakes one of my
first classes I raised my hand and asked what the Holocaust was I hadn’t heard of
it it’s another thing I don’t actually
recommend doing I mean people heard it as anti-semitism they essentially heard
it as me denying it you know what is this and I was like what is this and
yeah there were a lot of things I just didn’t I didn’t I didn’t transition
smoothly is probably a gentle way of putting it.
You were also suspicious of financial aid. Yeah my dad had always said the
financial aid you know anything to do with the federal government was like a
brainwashing thing and this and that you get dependent on it and that’s how the
government would how the government would get in and control you anytime you
let the government give you money that’s how they did it and so I experienced
that and I am really grateful I had an ecclesiastical leader I had a bishop
which is the Mormon equivalent of a pastor who I had a terrible explosion in
my tooth like just a nerve was I think dying or blowing up or something and I
was having a lot of pain I didn’t have any money to fix the tooth and he said
to me your family’s poor why don’t you get this money and you don’t even have
to pay it back and I thought it was really wicked and I really resisted it
for months actually and he actually he tried to give me a check of his own to
pay for the tooth. And you refused. I did I he tried to have a church pay for it and I
wouldn’t take it and tried to pay for it himself and I wouldn’t take it and then
eventually he convinced me to apply for this Pell Grant which I did do and that
was unbelievably that was changing you know it’s like I remember I got the
check and there was one check because I applied I think in the in the winter and
they gave me the full amount for the fall and the winter so a check arrived for
four grand and and I remember I actually called them on the phone and said
I remember the bill at the dentist was 1,500 and so to fix the tooth so I called
them and said I really only need two thousand can you take two thousand of this back because I was afraid it would corrupt me or something and so and of
course the woman on the FAFSA helpline was like excuse me and she just kind of said
look you get that because that’s what you get and you can cash it or not but
that’s your business and she just kinda hung up on me because I think she probably thought I was crank calling her which is fair but you know I
mean that money I think people don’t realize and I’m forgetting it now too
because I’m in a different position than I was before but the the biggest
advantage of money is not having to think about money. Right.
that’s what money gets you that’s what it buys you is the ability to never
think about it again and when they look at what the
difference is between poor people and rich people I mean I think poor people
are often very good at managing their money they know exactly where to get the
cheapest milk they know exactly where to buy the cheapest gas the problem is so
much of their brain power is occupied with that they can’t think about
anything else it’s a bandwidth issue. Did that hold you back? Yeah I don’t remember
I didn’t take any classes and I was in total survival mode I think until I got
that money that money was the first time that I remember doing extra reading it
was the first time that I everything that I think about before I got that
grant it’s just stress and sleep deprivation because I had a bunch of jobs
and then after that I was like oh I don’t I don’t need a psych class I’ll
just take a psych class it sounds interesting and I have some space in my
schedule and I took a number of classes I did not need that ended up being I
mean that psychology class is a wonderful gift to me because I took
Psych 101 and I learned about things like bipolar disorder and of course I
think every parent is terrified when their kid goes to college they’ll take
Psych 101 and then come back and psychoanalyze them which is exactly what happened so to go back to your parents did I
detect in the book that they were at times supportive of you when you were in
college it wasn’t it wasn’t like they wrote you off right? Yeah my dad was a
weird mix of proud and deeply antagonistic to me going to college so
he would he really wanted me to not go and at times he took kind of extreme
steps to keep me from going but he also would tell everybody that I had gone to
BYU and it was proof that the home school was really good and that he’d
been right all along and the same thing with Cambridge I remember he was very
angry at me when I got into Cambridge and there was an interview that BYU did with
me and I didn’t say and it’s all because of the home school that my parents gave
me because by that point I felt very much like there wasn’t any home school
and so I hadn’t and so it was a weird thing or he both wanted to say look
isn’t this great the home school is great and also you’re gonna get
brainwashed and joined the Illuminati. He was worried that you when you went to
Cambridge because you were going across the ocean right and therefore out of his protective reach? Yeah he always thought the world’s gonna end kind of any day and so he had stored up
all this fuel and food he had a ten year supply of food he was working on and he
wanted to be able to go gather up his kids when the end came and make them safe
and if I crossed the ocean he couldn’t get to me. So by the end of the book we
learn from you that your journey of education has a lot to do with your
sense of self and I know you’ve touched on this already about what
what you think education is but what does being educated mean to you you know
because I think that’s slightly different right? You wanna start with
a little question? What is being educated um I guess it’s a fair question I did
name the book I titled it Educated it seems reasonable you know I picked that title because I
wanted it to be provocative and I wanted to tell a story that was about education in a fuller sense I think it seems to me that
our economic and political system is going through some things I don’t know
if y’all noticed and it seems to me that we are tasking the education system with
solving a lot of problems that actually have nothing to do with education
they’re social problems they’re political problems and I worry I suppose
that the more we try to make the education system solve problems that are
not educational in nature but are social and political the more we risk
making education into something that isn’t education at all but is a little bit
closer to job training and we do that out of a desire to be helpful because we
know that kids are gonna be graduating from college and going into an
incredibly competitive economy that is shifting in dramatic convulsive ways and
we want to prepare them but I worry sometimes that in doing that in allowing
education to shift away from the making of an individual to the making of a
career that we do start to think of human beings as workers a little bit and
we we take out the things in a person’s education that are meant to make them of
use to themselves and what we leave in are the things that make them of use
to employers and I wanted to tell a story about education not that said this
is what education is and this is what it isn’t because I have no idea but but
that said like education isn’t necessarily just about making money it’s
also about making a life and making a person and I’m grateful for all the
skills that I was given in the course of my education they did make me more
employable probably if I ever get a job I’ll tell you but what they really
did is they made me a different person you know that old idea from John Dewey
that education is to give a child command of themselves and to give you a
perspective I’ve said I talk a lot about perspective it gives you the ability to
look at your life from another perspective and to see that the life
you’re living is maybe just one of many possible lives and
you can make decisions big meaningful ones about the relationships you want to
have with your parents and the relationships with your siblings and
what’s acceptable to you about the life you have and what isn’t acceptable what
do you want to preserve what do you want to change and I think that’s what
education is and I wanted to tell a story that reflected that larger idea. You did. And so here we are we’re in a room full of college and university leaders and we
can’t pass up the opportunity to give them a little bit of advice if you have
any so I dare say that many of them are all of them perhaps looking for
students like you students who are the hidden potential students out there in
the country and so do you have any thoughts on sort of what they can do
what these colleges can do to find students like you and to help students
like you succeed. How to find them is an interesting question I think my
impression is that we know an awful lot about what people need in order to do
well but we just don’t always act on it and another thing I wanted to do with
telling this story is to say people have an inner life that is often very
different from their outer life and some students that look like they need help
don’t and some that do look like and some you know some people who look like
they need help maybe don’t and some people who don’t look like they need
help maybe really do and I think it’s a very difficult thing to go back to a
place that you haven’t been in a long time and even harder still to go back to
a place that you’ve never been and if you’ve never been a student who has
struggled financially or never had anyone in your family never met anyone
in your family who’s gone to college if you don’t have that experience to draw
on it is worth spending some time with people like that and maybe not even
one-on-one but in those places because it is college looks like a very
different thing from where I’m from in Idaho than it does here it feels
different people talk about it in a different way. How do they build that connection how can the colleges help forge that connection? I think it’s gonna require some serious cooperation with
other universities no one university can do that but I think they maybe all can
and some of the research that has been done about the tiny interventions can
make a huge difference sending out and I had a cousin I’ve got one minute and 15
seconds left I have a cousin who got a 32 on the ACT who had a 4.0 got a
letter from Harvard and her dad runs a charity shop and they went and
plugged in her scores in the Harvard website and it spat out to them kind of
what her scholarship might be and I think it was two or three times what he
makes in a year that they still had to pay and they closed the browser and they
never made it to the financial aid page so she paid more to go to Utah State
than she would have paid to go to Harvard and when I told her that she
started crying when I told her dad that he started screaming when I told her
principal that he didn’t he’d never heard of that he didn’t know and this is
a good principal this is not someone who’s just like a sleep at the wheel so
I think that there is information out there that people need not that everyone
should go to Harvard maybe Utah State was the absolute best
place for her but she needed the information to make that decision and she didn’t have it. Tiny interventions make a huge difference. I think so so here we are you are now a
best-selling author a Cambridge PhD what’s next? I am working on this project
on rural education why kids in rural areas really struggle in a university
setting why do they tend to go to community colleges and not four-year
institutions why do they drop out why do they not study STEM and I’m interested
in that because of the political situation as well as it being where I’m
from because I think largely we are dividing and segregating ourselves along
an urban/rural division and I think trying to
understand what’s happening in rural America seems to me to be a pretty
crucial thing to understanding what’s happening in the country as a whole. Are
you thinking about academia? I don’t know I’m a year-to-year kind of person
right now I’m thinking I’m gonna write some articles I’m gonna make a
documentary about it and and see how I feel after that and if academic work would
do it I feel like there does need to be academic work on this subject there
absolutely does there’s actually not very much which is frustrating for me
but more I feel like there needs to be a public dialogue about it and we don’t
actually get a lot of rural narratives we don’t get a lot of rural people
speaking on their own behalf we get a lot of rural people refracted through
Trumpism and shoving a microphone in people’s face and saying why did you
vote for Trump and I don’t think you ever learn anything about anybody by
refracting them through the only thing that you care about I think if you want
to know what’s going on in the lives of rural Americans you have to look at what
the shape of their lives looks like not from your perspective but from their
perspective not everything leading up to this vote for Trump but just what is
going on in their lives from where they’re sitting and that’s that
perspective thing and I think that’s what education is meant to give you
maybe not the ability to agree with someone else but the ability to see
things from their point of view. That’s a great place to to wrap up and to thank
you for enlightening us and just one of once again remind you guys this book is
worth reading.

13 thoughts on “ACE2019: Tara Westover and Nick Anderson on the Transformative Power of Education”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! It's such a learning experience listening to Tara and her wonderful thoughts -such amazing perspective she has! Great interviewer too!

  2. Her statement resonated with me: sometimes people that look like they need money, don’t and some that look like they don’t need money, do.

  3. Get the book. I can only read her life in small doses. Amazing that she made it. We need to make education free.

  4. Finally an educated opinion of what might’ve happened in the election. Being educated among many other things means you’re able to look outside of yourself and respect other people’s opinions. Urbanites take note, your opinion of who should have been president might be just your opinion formed within your community and not necessarily reality.

  5. This is so informative and she brought up a lot of very great insights about homogeneity and how we should welcome differences

  6. this woman is deep she said, "poverty is a bandwidth issue" that is voluminous
    Poor people spend all of their time thinking about what they don't have which means they have no room in their brains for anything else

  7. Can someone explain to me how the USA education system works? Even though you pass the ACT, don't you need a highschool diploma to get into university, even if you are home schooled don't you need some sort of certification?

  8. I wonder if her struggle was the fuel that propelled her to the top. If she were raised in a "normal" environment, would she have accomplished as much?

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