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DEAR NANI: A Letter to One of My Role Models

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

First of all, Happy Women’s History Month. I know I mentioned this letter to you over the phone, but I kept my explanation short because I wanted to leave some of this letter’s contents a surprise for you. Since we’re already here, I wanted to write to you about how you personally have taught me how to be a woman over my 20 years of existence. In the following, I’m going to go ahead and go over some of our experiences that have shaped my overall being from childhood to now. 

Do you remember when we would go to the theatre to see symphonies and plays? We would grab lunch after the shows and discuss what we liked about the performances. I know that I was just a young kid, but you never talked like I wouldn’t be able to have my own opinion on whether the performance was awful or not. In all honesty, as a kid, I loved going to the symphony, not just because of the music and experience, but because I could also watch you enjoy the little moments of acting and solos of the violin. In fact, you shaped my interest in musical instruments when you always told me that you were the worst violinist in your childhood and that you could never get the hang of it. That minor story in itself made my younger self determined to learn how so I could personally play for you. I used to be quite afraid to show interest in the instruments, but you would push me to get over that little kid anxiety and go talk to the musicians. I never thought that this encouragement would affect my life, but it enhanced my parent’s teachings on the topic of approaching others.

On the topic of music, there’s one song that we would always blast during our time together. You might have guessed it, but it’s this song: 

Every time I hear this song, I’m always reminded of the collection of memories associated with it. I get reminded of all our shopping trips to the mall, where we would get lunch and look around for clothes. I can distinctly remember a strong and confident stranger who walked by, and we gave her a look up and down due to the intimidating impression she gave off. It was before I hit puberty, but you said something along the lines of, “If you have something, flaunt that off.” At the time, I thought you just meant that in the sense of body types, but I figured out later you meant it in the sense of the whole package. If you’ve got the confidence, use it. If you’ve got any skill set, don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage. In the case of skills, I can tell you that one of yours is assertiveness. 

I will never forget that time when we were at a golf tournament that was hosting a charity bidding auction to raise money for junior golfers. We ended up getting stuck in a bidding war against a man who held a decent amount of responsibility in the organization but was a sexist bully to little kids. I remember how you were slightly petty in the bidding (rightfully so) and ended up winning the bashing of heads. As a kid, I was more confused than anything about the tension. But now, I am so proud that I have a grandmother who is so stubborn that she’ll stand up for what she believes no matter what.  I loved that you kicked him off his high-horse no matter what his ranking was in the case of the organization. I also remember the exact face of the 30-year-old something man was shocked at the fact that you, someone in their 70s, would have the balls to stand up to him. I just want you to know that despite however many times you’ve traveled around the sun, I know that you could stand against a whole army without a blink of an eye.  

With your stubbornness and passion, I can say that you are one of the biggest supporters in my academic career. I’m not saying that my parents don’t support my life, because they do. But you, you are the one who loves reading every single piece of writing that I turn out. No matter what the topic is or how rough the draft is, you always ask to read every single piece. I even remember when I was in high school, you were ready to get into a fistfight with a teacher because he didn’t give me an A on a paper. When I tried to explain that he never gave A’s in the first place, you were ready to storm into the school and give the teacher, whom I idolized, a piece of your mind. I think that we both agree he deserves thanks for the intense writing skills he drove into my head. 

I know I don’t exactly tell you this enough, but I want you to know how much I love and appreciate having you in my life. I know life has been tough for all of us these last couple of years, but I am very glad to have each other every step of the way. The next time I come home, I promise to meet for happy hour and catch up, but for now, the almost everyday phone call will suffice. 

I love you, and I want you to know that you’re not the average grandmother in the best way possible. 

Your oldest granddaughter, 

Katie J.

Katie Jacobson

CU Boulder '23

Katie is a Senior at the University of Colorado- Boulder. She is currently studying in the Classics department along with minoring in Anthropology and Creative Writing. Her hometown is Laguna Niguel, California. In her free time, you can find her discovering new music, reading, or grabbing a bagel from the Hill.