Cheri Hample

Cheri Hample's picture

Cheri Hample

Growing up in a small, conservative community in rural Minnesota was difficult for an outspoken, energetic "teacher's kid". (not as bad as being a "preachers kid" though) Some of the advantages were being close and connected to grandparents, cousins and other extended family and once old enough I spent most summers living in Oakes, North Dakota with my grandparents. My high school years were filled with activities: drama, music, volunteering and being what was then referred to as a "tom boy" and being gossiped about because I had "big boobs"!!! Looking back at those years, I realize I was a women before my time just like my grandmother and was not partucularly happy living there.  I left home the day after I graduated from high school and never lived at home again....since I did not get along with my mother or my sister very well my brief visits were spent going around town catching up with my surrogate "mom" and a few people from my school days. I have maintained friendships with very few of my high school classmates and after my 30 year high school reunion vowed to never attend another one.....the guys were old and the women were mostly the same as they were in high school, "snobby and shallow". My freshman year of college at Moorhead State was party time (although I did not drink much) and then I followed a boyfriend (like so many women do) to Willmar, MN where I attended the commnity college, was elected homecoming Queen and earned my AA degree. My next 12 years were spent at the University of Minnesota, some of the best of my life. I loved living in the Twin Cities and attending a big 10 school. After earning an undergrad degree in Social Work, marrying the guy I followed to Willmar and later getting divorced, I bcame the youngest ever Director of a the Women's Christain Association Pillsbury Club ( a dorm for women in downtown Minneapolis). I eventually went to graduate school. Graduate school in Public Health and Social Work was inspiring and intellectually challenging. Oh there were men too and well, lots of relationship experimentation!!! I bought a motorcycle and rode all over the midwest. I was one of the first women to break the barrier in the :men's weight lifting room and my friend Marilee was the first woman in the Minnesota Marching Band.... Femininsts were accused of bra burning (mine cost too much to burn) and the Viet Nam war was in full force....these years were: war protests, movies, concerts, parties, dancing, volunteering, and the beginning of many enduring and comforting friendships. They were wonderful years and laid the foundation of what I consider to be a rewarding life of work in health and human service, 2 children whom I love dearly and hundreds of friends and acquaintances all over the country and world..... so thank you to my maternal grandmother and great aunts who inspired me and showered me with unconditional love; and thank you to my parents for doing the best they could with a "wild girl" whose values were nothing like theirs and who followed the road less traveled and still does.