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The photo shoot for the 2019 40 Under 40 class was held on the fourth floor of the Discovery Center, this year's charity partner.
SBJ file photo
The photo shoot for the 2019 40 Under 40 class was held on the fourth floor of the Discovery Center, this year's charity partner.

Opinion: It’s the miles that shape us

Editor's Note: 2019 40 Under 40

Posted online

What makes us who we are?

It’s not one single moment or one single person. And it can’t be all in our genes.

I believe it’s the cumulative impact of our family, our chosen loved ones, teachers, mentors, employers, co-workers and our daily experiences.

Good or bad, every interaction and person we come in contact with has shaped us.

Imagine you are seated at a table. If we could see our full selves, there would be a line, miles deep behind us, of all the people who helped us become who we are.

These 40 young professionals are no different. Each has a unique story and path and, I’m certain, would proudly produce a list of names of the people they would thank for their mentorship and encouragement – but likely also their criticism and honesty.

As a fellow young professional, I couldn’t help but see myself in some of these stories. I think you’ll relate, maybe to your younger self or someone you aspire to be.

For me, my mother was my first editor. No matter how late into the evening I completed a paper, it would be edited in the morning. My father was the first storyteller I knew. He has some of the best personal stories I’ve ever heard. My first professional boss gave me the confidence to learn my craft.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal about how we become who we are, as my grandfather passed. He was a hunter and fisherman, and he retired young as a senior buyer for a department store. Not much in common there. But I do share his love for a good meal, meaningful conversation and family history. His story helped shape who I am.

As part of putting together this special issue, I communicated via email with each of this year’s honorees, asking questions to learn more about who they are. Some answers were fun. Many were poignant. A common thread pointed to the value of relationships. The people who helped them get a job, taught a valuable lesson or served as a source of inspiration.

These 40 young professionals are some of our community’s best and brightest. And behind each name is a line a mile deep of the people who helped shape them. Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees. Thanks for giving your time, talents and treasure to our community.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Christine Temple can be reached at ctemple@sbj.net.

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