Following our dreams isn’t always easy, and success is never guaranteed. But one of the most important benefits of education is the way it helps students learn to develop the skills and perseverance they need to keep following their dreams throughout their lives, no matter how long, surprising, or challenging their path to success may be.
That was on my mind earlier this week when I found myself very fortunate to be at Heinz Field for the Monday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Bears. Sure, a Steelers win is always worth celebrating. But the real reason I was so proud to be in attendance that night was because of something very special.
That night, the NFL was paying tribute to America’s armed forces during their annual Salute to Service game. While this would have been a memorable occasion under any circumstances, it was especially notable for me because the night’s honorees included my former high school classmate and Baldwin alumna, Rear Admiral Susan Orsega.
As some of you may know, Susan has had a remarkable career as a nurse in the U.S. military. She has worked to improve health conditions for people all around the world and right here in America, including being deployed with a medical team to New York City after 9/11. Earlier this year, Susan became one of the few nurses in history to serve as acting U.S. Surgeon General when she was appointed to that role by President Biden.
Being there in the stands to cheer for Susan and all of the other service members, veterans, and their families in attendance was incredibly moving. The respect I have for those who dedicate their lives to serving and protecting our country is immeasurable. But the fact that my own former classmate was among them made the night even more memorable, because it reminded me that when it comes to following our dreams, anything is possible and the sky truly is the limit.
Orsega's inspiration is significant and is being recognized. Through the Baldwin-Whitehall Educational Foundation, the District has been awarded a $5,000 donation from the Pittsburgh Steelers and United States Steel Corporation in honor of Susan Orsega. This directed donation will be used to support STEAM initiatives at Baldwin High School. I'd like to personally thank those involved in coordinating this opportunity, including the Steelers employees, Mr. John Wodarek, Ms. Betsy Sutter, and our classmates. These funds will ensure other students can dream big, just as Susan has.
When we look at our friends, coworkers, children, or even ourselves, we might be tempted to think we know everything about them, including what they’re capable of. 30 years ago, I’m sure some people interacted with Susan without giving any thought to the possibility that she would someday become a national role model for girls who dream of reaching the top of their career field. That’s the kind of storybook dream we might think someone else could achieve, but not ourselves or someone we know.
But that’s the amazing thing about following your dreams: when you do, you never know where they’ll lead.