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KerryOn: Where I’m From/Woman of Steel

Updated: Feb 1


In 2019, I was involved in an intercultural leadership development (ILD) program at the University of Minnesota; a mix of faculty and staff who met throughout the semester to share experiences and work towards intercultural understanding. One assignment was to write a Where I'm From poem based on the work of George Ella. Each of us comes from a place. And each place is more than just a spot on a map – it’s a culture, a history, it’s a tradition. The more we can articulate our experiences and how that place shaped us, the more we can understand our current place.  And perhaps, like me, it can help me identify the places I truly belong. I wrote my Where I’m From poem in less than an hour, and, despite reviewing and rereading it several times over the years, I realize it's as true and accurate today as when I first wrote it.

 

Before you read my poem, it might help to understand a bit about where I grew up; I’ve been described this way by a colleague who knows me well. “Forged in the Iron Range of northern Minnesota, Dr. Fierke carries with her the strength and perseverance required to survive, and thrive, in an environment that can be both beautiful and brutal.”

 

Woman of Steel by Kerry K. Fierke

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

I grew up a girl on the iron range, the foundational element in steel

Told girls didn’t need to know geography, we were not tough

Told girls didn’t need college – just barefoot, pregnant in the kitchen

 

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

I expanded the rules, competed in sport and lifted hay bales

Pushed against anything that became a barrier

Pushed away from anyone who told me lies

 

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

I left for spaces outside of what I’ve known

Explored college and met my partner on the rugby pitch

Explored that my voice could be heard without yelling

 

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

I became corporate management, Fortune 100

Continued to reach the highest degree possible

Continued on this journey pregnant, building her dream kitchen

 

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

A leader who develops the best in herself and others

Embracing the travels across the world – connecting global leaders

Embracing the Seasons

 

I am a woman of steel – strong, confident, committed to change

I have the same name since birth, yet I am not the same

Growing as someone who continues to run marathons, one mile at a time

Growing in multiple roles as woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, colleague

 

I am the fire who is molding the steel….   strong, confident, committed to change

KKF – 2/7/19


Special Note: The picture was taken one month before my wedding (1998). I was proudly playing tourist with my fiancé at the Underground Mine in Soudan Minnesota, near where I grew up. What is important to note is my Chinese Element is fire and his is water.  Fire can melt steel, but it needs water for balance.


KerryOn Questions

- How would you describe your Where I’m From?

- What thoughts, images, and actions emerge when you think about this place?

- In what ways has this place influenced who you are today?

The Kerry behind KerryOn

My name is Kerry K. Fierke, Ed.D. (pron. Fear-Key) I have a unique combination of skills and experience – decades of fast-paced corporate experience in Fortune 100 companies and large health care organizations, combined with the academic rigor of a highly ranked research university. My focus is supporting others to create their own path to leadership development, lifelong learning, and a unique leadership legacy. Take a moment to focus on leadership, then KerryOn!

To see all KerryOn's and other leadership stuff, visit www.kerrykfierke.com.

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