In college I participated in a program called Ambassadors of Change (AOC). Freshman year I was an ambassador with about 30 other freshmen along with 10 upperclassmen to help lead groups. Each group had a different topic and it was our goal in the program to come up with a way to teach others about that topic. The program was only 4 days long but it was right before orientation so we pretty much had the campus to ourselves. It was wonderful in many ways: we got to know a small group of people before being surrounded by thousands; we got to know the campus; we volunteered with different organizations; we learned about different causes. I could go on and on but I won’t. In short, it was through AOC that I met like-minded people and the leaders of tomorrow.
Sophomore year I came back as a group leader. While I was still a bit in my shell, being a leader of a group helped me come out a bit more. The upperclassmen had to come a few days before the ambassadors to get everything ready. When we were given the list of freshmen that each group would have, I scanned the list. One name jumped out at me: Jackie Collins. Really? Jackie Collins, like the author? It made me laugh. “I have got to meet this girl!” I said to myself. She wasn’t in my group but I made it a point to talk to her.
This Jackie Collins loved to read but wasn’t a writer. She was an opera singer. She was high-energy, friendly, and funny. She became one of my best friends and we still hang out when she’s not in rehearsal for a show. Sometimes, when I’m at work, I like to tell people, “Yeah, I know Jackie Collins.” When they give me a surprised look, I laugh and say, “Not the writer – the opera singer!”