FVCC symposium to share inspirational stories

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Students studying communications at Flathead Valley Community College will brave the podium to share their personal stories of survival for this year’s Many Voices Symposium on April 9.

Hosted by FVCC Assistant Professor Amy Pearson, the presentation will allow both current students and alumni of the college to speak on some of the specific struggles they overcame in their pursuit of success.

“FVCC students have made it and are making it through difficult times and showing up here ready to share and learn at the college,” Pearson said. “Their stories of survival are intriguing and complicated tales of making it through to the other side wiser and better than before.”

FVCC alumnus and cancer survivor Jesse Mahugh will serve as the symposium’s keynote speaker, and eight students will share their stories about overcoming experiences such as mental illness, abuse, single parenthood, and the death of a loved one.

Speaking on the struggles of living in a home with mental illness, 20-year-old Mia Kelso, a first-year communications student from Whitefish, will deliver her first public speech for the event.

Her story delves into a household broken by her father’s absence and struggle with drug addiction, and the resulting depression that took hold of her mother and brother’s lives.

“No one wants to talk about it because it’s really hard to talk about,” Kelso said. “I just think that so many people have gone through either a hardship or a very similar story.”

Her hope in openly sharing her story, she said, is that someone listening will relate and glean from it some sense of hope.

“The hope is that everyone will leave this symposium inspired and replete with best practices for survival,” Pearson said.

Following the presentations, the audience will choose three students to receive a monetary award funded by an FVCC Foundation Enhancement Grant.

Luke Dowler will provide musical entertainment while the audience’s votes are tallied.

The free public event will take place April 9 at 7 p.m. in FVCC’s Art and Technology Building in the community room.

For more information, contact Pearson at (406) 756-3904 orapearson@fvcc.edu.

Reporter Mary Cloud Taylor can be reached at 758-4459 or mtaylor@dailyinterlake.com.

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