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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A story worth telling

Tell+Your+Story
Photo by Photo by Casey O’Neal
Tell Your Story

Dreamers become success stories. Three individuals share their hope amidst hardship at the Tell Your Story Forum.
Tell Your Story welcomed students to hear speakers Joseph Sohm, Ann Marie Hauser and Elizabeth Ellis share their stories on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for their 2018 forum.
Tell Your Story, a leadership forum, was founded by Paige Smiley-Robinson, Class of 2010, in 2010. After attending a leadership conference freshman year, Smiley-Robinson was inspired to develop an event to help students develop their passions, according to the organization’s website.
Rachael Dick, interdisciplinary studies senior, serves as Tell Your Story’s assistant director and said she is proud to know her work within the organization inspires others’ dreams.
“I think it has a really awesome and kind of unique mission to kind of get students thinking about what they are passionate about and what they want that to look like in their lives,” Dick said. “That’s been a really cool thing to help students realize their ambition and be inspired by this forum that we put on.”
Sohm, a history teacher and travel photographer, led attendees through the story of his life and his journey to success. Sohm has captured photos of well known politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and President Donald Trump.
“I believe that we all have a purpose in life, and our talent is just to figure out what that purpose is,” Sohm said. “In my case, it was a calling that actually found me, almost as if the Statue of Liberty called out to me, ‘Hey Joe Shmo, get a camera and take my picture,’ and so I did.”
Traveling through all 50 states in 30 years, Sohm shared his story of dedication to capturing the American spirit — beginning with an imaginary camera during his childhood and now taking photos of political figures.
“I spent about a year or two years as an American history teacher, but soon I was fed up,” Sohm said. “I wanted to hit the road. So I left the classroom behind and the next 35 years or so I devoted to just exploring all 50 states, whatever interested me about the USA.”
Hauser, Class of 1997, is the deputy staff director of the Senate Republican Conference. She traveled from the capital to tell her story of finding direction, passion and limits that led her to high-level positions such as President George W. Bush’s Ohio re-election campaign.
“Be honest with yourself about your gifts and your talents,” Hauser said. “What makes your heart race? I’ve always found that these are your road signs.”
Ellis, a long-time Bryan resident, shared her story of loss under the Russian occupation of East Prussia following World War II in order to communicate the importance of their actions to the younger generation.
“Wars are usually not started by the older generation who have fought in it and lived through it — they are usually started by the young generation,” Ellis said. “I wanted to give a warning. These things can happen again. History repeats itself and that’s why I want to tell my story.”
Sandra Urquhart is a scriptwriter who has partnered with Ellis to help capture her story. The two have spent a lot of time together reliving Ellis’ story.
“She lives her life with so much joy and the fact that she still has empathy for other people just blows me away because she could live her life very different after what she’s been through,” Urquhart said. “But she’s made a choice to live her life on her terms and to laugh every day.”
Living through the loss of the life she knew in Europe, Ellis moved to America at the age of 19, where she found a new hope. She now aspires to record her memories fully by having a book written.
“When we finally made it out of East Russia to Germany, I thought I had made it, but no one wanted us. But then I came to America and thought I really made it, but no one wanted to hear my story,” Ellis said. “Now, we would like to have a book written so I can tell my own story … I lived that story and there is so much more to tell.”
Additional information about Ellis can be found on her Twitter account and her website.

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