This person was asked by a stranger if she was born in this country.

Although immediately offended, the conversation she had with the stranger would change her life forever.

Have your students ever been offended by somebody? What happened next? Read on!

Read the Non-Fiction Article:
Born Here

When Deshauna Barber was 19 years old, a stranger asked her if she was born in this country. She was offended right away. But the conversation she had with the stranger would change her future.

Barber worked at Target. She worked in the women’s clothing section. This was during the summer of 2009. A customer stared at her for twenty minutes from across the aisle. Then, the stranger asked Barber if she was born in this country.

“She says the most offensive thing to me that you can say to a person of color in the United States of America. She asks me, were you born in this country and I was immediately offended. I put my hands on my hips and said, ‘Yeah, I was born in this country.'”

The lady was a pageant recruiter. She thought Barber was the most beautiful girl she had ever seen. The next day, Barber agreed to meet at Starbucks. The lady showed up with a huge stack of pageant magazines. They talked about what beauty pageants were all about. Barber grew up in a military family. She was already in the US Army Reserves. Barber was working towards finishing a military scholarship at university. As you can imagine, beauty pageantry was not a big part of her life growing up.

Barber was incredibly open-minded. She decided to compete in the District of Columbia State pageant three months later. Barber didn’t win. But she fell in love with competing in pageants. If she won at the state level, she would go against other state winners to try to become Miss USA. The winner of Miss USA goes on to represent the country at the international level. Miss USA competes against other countries to try to become Miss Universe.

The next year, Barber competed again in her state pageant. She lost. Barber tried again for a third, fourth, and fifth year. She failed each time. Barber was determined. She wanted to keep going. So, she decided to compete in her sixth pageant. She made it to the semi-finals before losing. After six failed attempts, Barber spoke with the lady who convinced her to compete in the first place. “I call her on the phone and said, ‘You told me I could be the next Miss USA,’ and she says, ‘Dashana, keep working, keep working, don’t quit, keep going back.’”

In December 2015, Barber won her state competition. She earned the title of Miss District of Columbia. A few months later, in June 2016, Barber competed and won Miss USA. She became the first soldier serving in the military to win Miss USA. She was also the ninth African American to win the title.

Barber was Miss USA for one year. She got a lot of attention during this time because she was Miss USA. She used this attention to talk about mental health in the Armed Forces. She speaks up for soldiers who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) A few months later, Barber was in the 2016 Miss Universe competition. She went against 86 countries, and she finished in the top nine.

Today, Dr. Deshauna Barber has a LinkedIn social media account. Her headline lists a lot of the great things she’s done. It says Army Veteran, Former Miss USA, and Motivational Speaker. It also lists President of Service Women’s Action Network and Diversity and Inclusion expert. You learn more about what she has done if you read her profile. Barber served her country as a captain in the US Army Reserve. She’s a STEM graduate. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management. Barber also has a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. She even has a doctorate in Organizational Leadership. Finally, Barber travels around the world. She is a motivational speaker.

One of her messages is that sometimes, the person you are right now isn’t ready to be the person who wins. This message means you don’t have what you need to succeed yet. You have to keep working. You have to become better if you want to win.

Barber admits that she used to give up a lot when she was a kid. Her first real commitment was in middle school. She made the track team. Barber needed running shoes, so her mom bought her size nine shoes. At the time, her feet were only a size five. Her mom bought large Nike runners that she could grow into. During track practice, Barber twisted her ankle. She fell to the ground because her shoes were too big.

“I couldn’t run at the speed that I wanted to because I didn’t fit the shoes I was wearing at the time.” Barber explains what she learned about life.

“Now many of us have goals we’re trying to achieve, but the person we are right now is not the person that we need to be when we cross the finish line to our dreams. So we must walk and pace ourselves on this journey to our goals because we haven’t grown enough in ourselves to fit the shoes that we need to achieve our aspirations.”

Barber tried to become Miss District of Columbia for seven years. She failed six times. Sometimes, she speaks to graduates at her old school. Barber tells them we should not fear failure. Instead, we should be afraid of regret. After all, they will be turned down many times when they first apply for a job.

“The reality of life is that we will all hear more nos than we hear yeses and we will fail a lot and I mean a whole lot, but what I ask of you today is to not take no for an answer. Don’t be afraid of nos – be afraid of the possibility of a yes that you have prematurely destroyed because you decided to quit before the clock strikes twelve o’clock.”

Barber is afraid of losing a dream because she gave up too early. But she also uses rejection as fuel. Getting turned down only makes her want her dreams more. She takes time to look for reasons to work harder. She tells people “to work, to not stop here, to believe so heavily in your aspirations that you too will not fear the word no, but instead, you would choose to welcome this.”

Born Here from an SEOT perspective

Let’s break apart this story of perseverance. What strategies can we learn to help us achieve our goals? This article has two methods that work well together. We can use these opposite ideas to push and pull ourselves to success.

STRATEGY IDEA #1: Be Terrified Of Regret (push factor)

A push factor is when you push away from something bad. For example, war pushes you away from your home country. It forces you to move to safety.

In this article, Barber says we should be afraid of regret. She thinks we should be afraid of the things we’re missing out on if we stop too soon. We should use that fear of missing out to push ourselves toward what we want.

In 2017, Barber spoke with some students finishing school. She shared some of her the things she learned in life. “I ask only one thing of you all after you leave this graduation. Do not fear failure. But, please be terrified of regret. Giving up is the birth of regret.”

Barber lost her state pageant for six years. If she had given up after the sixth failure, she would never have become Miss USA. Barber likely would have spent her life wondering if she could have won. She probably would regret that she didn’t keep trying.

STRATEGY IDEA #2: Prove Them Wrong (pull factor)

A pull factor is something you want. It draws you closer to something. For example, sometimes parents move to a country with a better education system. They want to give their kids better chances of having a good life.

Naysayers are people who say you can’t do something. In this article, proving these people wrong can be a strong pull factor. We want to prove them wrong so much we’re willing to keep going and try harder. If someone tells you no, you can’t do something, use that rejection to push you into action. Getting told no might light a fire in your soul that makes you want to work harder.

“I love a good no. Please tell me no. Telling me no is like adding fuel to a fire that is now set ablaze because of your single no – I love additional reasons to work harder. Please give me a reason.”

Be so good, they can’t ignore you. Showing the world you were right can give you a lot of energy. This energy can help you win.

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