Last week, I finished Educated by Tara Westover. Westover’s book is a harrowing tale of her own journey, documenting a turbulent family life. Her parents were fearful of the Federal government, didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals, and didn’t send her to school for a formal education. Instead they homeschooled her, though she rarely had set lessons and didn’t even have much reading material outside of the Bible. Most days, she worked with her brothers in her father’s junkyard. Importantly, she details an abusive older brother, and cites a failure of her parents to sufficiently protect her or even believe her when she told them about his violent behavior towards her.
Against all odds, Westover prevailed. In one of the most gritty stories I have ever heard, she somehow manages to score well enough on the ACT to attend Brigham Young University. She is woefully underprepared for college – but somehow, enough professors see enough talent to help guide her through the future. She goes on to receive a fellowship at Cambridge University, then on to Harvard, and eventually back to Cambridge for her Ph.D. Along the way, she suffers a few setbacks as she struggles to make sense of her childhood and confronts her family about the abuse.
Reading these tales, I’m struck by just how unlikely it was that Westover would end up where she has. There were so many times where she could have given in, where she could have taken an easier route, and where she could have not worked quite so hard. Of learning to read, she said “The skill I was learning was a crucial one, the patience to read things I could not yet understand.” But, she persevered – unveiling to the reader just how lucky we are to be able to read the words on the pages she has written. A voice inside of her – a curiosity – a drive – an undeniable grit – propelled her forward.
It is this thirst for knowledge that we want to instill in each and every one of our 6,000 scholars at Impact Network. We hope to give them the tools that they need to be Tara Westover in their homes. In their villages. And in each day of their lives, especially outside of our walls. Westover taught herself an unbelievable amount of information, and it didn’t happen in a school classroom – it started with just her and a book of meaningless symbols that she had to work to decipher, that she had to spend time interpreting, and that she had to struggle with in order to succeed.
I highly recommend the book if you haven’t read it already!