Thank you Suzanne Miller with Newberg Noon Rotary for the thoughtful recap in the August 28th newsletter!
Shannon began her talk with the lovely Mary Oliver poem, “The Journey.” And what a journey she has been on. “I was built for hard things,” she said, “and I wouldn’t trade mine for a gentler journey.”
Hers started with being born to a 15-year-old mom and 17-year-old dad, and not meeting her father until she was age 12. She said she was “in and out of foster care and experienced every possible type of abuse.”
However, she was always a top achiever in school, and had “angels, mentors and protectors” who helped her. At 16, she became a ward of the state of Washington.
At one point, she tried to force her mom into drug rehab. Her mom responded by telling her she had 30 minutes to pack up and get out.
She was able to turn to one of her angels, Carol, who took her in and taught her a lot…even how to apply for scholarships. She was accepted to George Fox.
“Here I was, someone who grew up without rules or curfews. I was a troublemaker. I kept the campus leaf-free with all the community service I did.”
At GFU, she met Dr. Paul Anderson, who kept asking her, “Where are you going to go to grad school?” With his help, she applied to top schools like Yale and Harvard, and decided on Yale.
“So I got married and went off to Connecticut and Yale.” And then surprises started hitting: she got pregnant, found out her husband was mentally ill and abusive, and her daughter was born prematurely.
She said she “played the biggest game of poker in my life. I sat down with one of the deans and asked for help.” It turned out they were able to help her and her daughter– with rent, health care, meals and other living expenses.
She was able to finish and accepted a teaching position back at GFU. “So, here I was, a professor at a dry campus in the morning and working to sustain myself and daughter as a bartender at night,” she smiled. It was while bartending that she met her current husband, Paul Buckmaster, and they have been married for 10 years. She taught until . She wanted to spend more time at home with the kids, so in 2010 she started a side business to earn extra $$$. She joined Mary Kay Cosmetics, partly because she was aligned with the company philosophy of “Faith, first; family, second; career, third.”
Within 22 months of starting, she had earned the coveted “Pink Cadillac” for outstanding sales. She became a trainer for the company’s 650,00-strong U.S. sales force. Three years ago, Mary Kay sent out a film crew and interviewed her on her life story and condensed it to a three-minute Public Service Announcement. She said people still recognize her and come up to her to talk about its message of eradicating domestic violence.
A new part of her journey started last year when she felt called to start her own company– Shannon Buckmaster LLC, and embark on a speaking career. “I hope you hear that I am not bitter, not angry. I love my mother as my sister. She is giving me a gift. I have forgiven her and I am inspired. I stand for compassion, for resiliency, for self agency. I’m a survivor. I’m not a victim.” She hopes to use her talks to share that message, offer hope and inspire others.
Why would she join Rotary?
“Because I am already in alignment with the values of this organization. I am committed to using my talents to do good. I come to you as a partner and as a student…”
And we are so glad to have you, Shannon. We expect this next part of the journey will be amazing.