Modeling career behavior

By Georgie Bright Kunkel

Looking through my diaries which I have kept for many years I realize that I have chronicled all those people who have made an impression on me. As the saying goes, no person is an island. Well, actually the saying is no man is an island but I have updated it to recognize that it refers to both sexes. We are not self made. Every person with whom we have an interaction makes an impression on our lives. Some make more of an impression than others.

The modern media has showcased certain people to accentuate the condition called fame. Once I gave a talk to a large group of young girls who were at a retreat camp. I asked them to name people they admire. Movie stars were in the majority of those mentioned. Since I had anticipated such answers I prepared a list of women who had made a difference in the world. I hoped to introduce these young girls to models that represented a variety of career choices.

As I read the list of people I found that not many of the young people in the room had ever heard of Eleanor Roosevelt or Marie Curie or Jane Goodall. So I duplicated the list and handed it out to the girls and asked them to look up information about them.

Other women on the list included: Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Blackwell. The list did not stop there, however. It included the first woman to be prime minister of England. Young people may know more about her now since the film Iron Lady is center stage these days.

Thinking back to famous people I have met brought me back to my earlier years. I once rushed to the train station in Chehalis to hear Franklin Delano Roosevelt talk from the caboose of the train which had slowed down to a stop so he could address the small town crowd. I met Larry King backstage at a local radio station when my late husband and I were on the noon news some years ago for having appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show. When I asked him to pose for a camera shot he invited me to be in the picture with him. What a thrill.

I was at a Seattle Center meeting room when Bill Clinton arrived on the scene and started working the room, as they say. I stood up on a chair behind the circle of people waiting for him and he reached across and shook my hand. Years before I had waited in the crowd in downtown Seattle to see the tousled headed knight, as John F. Kennedy was called, when he was driven on a downtown Seattle street for all to see. Today even the pope would not dare ride in a crowd without his pope-mobile surrounded by bullet proof glass but in those days presidents dared to be close to their public.

In days when people lived on farms they strove to take on the work of their parents. Younger sons who would not inherit would sometimes leave and travel to find their own dream. But with city life depriving young people of seeing their parents at work, modeling after people on television has replaced the dreaming of becoming like one’s parents.

It is the enlightened parent who realizes that their children need lots of different experiences to bring many choices into their children’s lives. Future teachers, inventors, dancers, artists, musicians and technical specialists come from having varied experiences and models for career choice.
When our economy finally gets back on track and the deep cuts to education are no longer being made, the chances of our children gaining the opportunities they need will be enhanced. For now, parents have an awesome responsibility to fill the gaps resulting from these deep cuts. But that is what parents are for, right?

Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at or 206-935-8663.

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