Mississippi Youth

Last week I worked in Mississippi for the MS Office of Highway Safety and the MS Student Advisory Board, (SAB). This group of 23 students had no idea who I was—just that I was a consultant coming in (as they prepared for their statewide Club Officer Training), to tell them what they were doing wrong. I’ve become accustomed to this description. The dictator, the mean one, the scary lady…the list goes on and on. These students have no idea who I really am.
They don’t know I started this program before they were born. They don’t know the team of Harriet, Jim, Rusty, Chip, Neal, Glen, Tim, and Glenda– a team from DREAM and the MS Office of Highway Safety who always worked together. They don’t know how many hours we spent dreaming up new ideas, or how many days we spent developing new prevention programs. They don’t know how much fun we had, or why we never quit, even when funding was drastically cut.
They don’t know that there’s a whole group of now adults that are immediately taken back to a hot auditorium at Belhaven College or USM when the song from Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” plays. These students have no idea what MS Youth to Youth was, and why some of us keep trying to resurrect it.
They weren’t with me as I stood at the top of the MS Coliseum with tears in my eyes as I watched over 5,500 students raise their hands and sing in unison as Karl Anthony performed. They also weren’t with me as I tried to calm down over 100 school advisors when the pizza ovens broke and almost no one was fed lunch. They weren’t there as I traveled the entire state delivering conference t-shirts because the printer didn’t deliver on time. They don’t know the crazy details that are involved with coordinating and executing a conference.
They don’t know what it feels like to have chapters/clubs fail because an advisor left a school. They don’t know what it means to get a thank you note from a student who feels like his life was saved because of SAB. They haven’t heard the school advisors say thank you so many times it gets embarrassing, and then have a federal funding agency question your motive, your program and your results.
I can’t articulate the memories so they get it. My history is just that—history. I just hope they get why I want them to do well. They don’t know how much this program means to me, and why I can’t talk about it too much. It’s just too emotional.
I want them to know I’m their biggest cheerleader. That’s why I’m such a tough coach.
That’s who I really am.


  1. Ashley Burns on November 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    You came to the student council regional summit at the Plaza Hotel today. I sat front row and thought, “great…assembly…” but you ma’am, have inspired me to change my life. I told my friend, “she really makes me want to be better, to actually change lives” and he responded, “give it two days and you wont care anymore.” This is my challenge. I will change. I will become a better person. I will help, and I will change lives. You are the absolute best motivational speaker I’ve ever heard from. Thank you so much.
    -Ashley Burns

    • hturk on November 16, 2011 at 8:12 am

      Ashley, you have no idea how much I appreciate you writing me. Thank you so much! Tell that friend of yours, “This ain’t yo dream!”. :). Keep believing in YOU!

  2. Deanna Lester on March 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I was at the JA Conference at Central Penn College! 🙂 You are soo inspiring to me. I ALWAYS feel so afraid to do things, but now i feel more comfortable and i really want to thank you <3

    Deanna Lester
    ~God Bless~

    • hturk on November 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thank you, Deanna! I really appreciate what you said!!!

  3. Sydney King on November 18, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    Hi! My name is Sydney and you spoke at my FCCLA cluster meeting in Indianapolis this past weekend. I did not, at the time, have the cash on me to buy a t-shirt but I really want one! Is there any way I could order one online? Also, I loved everything you had to say and you really inspired me.
    Thanks ! 🙂

    • hturk on November 18, 2012 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Sydney! Thank you so much! I had such a great time with y’all. You can order a shirt online–just go to http://www.thisaintyodream.com and look for the “shop now” button. Thank you!!

  4. LaDonna on March 29, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    How blessed we were this week to be inspired by you at the Speak Hard Event in Jefferson City, MO. My students were so intrigued and motivated by your words, style and warmth. Thank you so much for the wisdom and honesty you shared with us. Many blessings to you and on your journey to enlighten us that we are worth it!!!

    • hturk on April 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

      Thank you very much, LaDonna. I appreciate your message very much!

  5. bri gaskill on December 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm

    you were a speaker at my beta leadership convention this year and i love the saying this aint yo dream its helped me learn and understand that its my life and i will and can do what i want with it. i have told my school counseler many times about you and hope that you can come to my school 🙂

    • hturk on December 4, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you so very much! I had a great time with y’all too! I hope I CAN come to your school–I appreciate you letting your counselor know about me. Thank you. 🙂

  6. Grant M on March 23, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Hey! You spoke at the SCASC Convention 2014! My council loved you! We all still go around doing the “LIFE IS GREAT” chant and the “Spiderman ‘THIS AINT YO DREAM'” wave. I haven’t took off the bracelet since the day you came to the convention! I actually had surgery this past week and my mom wore it while I was in the O.R. . lol but as soon as I came out I had it back on! I’m going to be very upset the day it brakes! haha. I also wear the shirt all the time! Your message really opened my eyes! I have learned to make my self happy while making others happy at the same time! I really hope to hear you speak again. You are defiantly a remodel for teens! So don’t ever stop! Thanks again for the impact you have made on my council and I. You will always be remembered by our school!

    Grant Moses
    Pickens High School
    Pickens, SC

    • hturk on March 28, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Grant! Thank you so very much!! I loved being with y’all. If the bracelet breaks, just let me know–I’ll send you a new one. 🙂

  7. Hannah N on April 2, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    You came to the JA Symposium today. You made me so happy. You really made me think about my life and what I want to do, and not to care what others say. To just be yourself. I loved hearing the stories about your son. The spiderman story made me laugh. You made me crack up, but I also wanted to cry at some parts because everything you said was so true.”I am somebody special. If you don’t like me, TOUGH. Cause I am cool enough, smooth enough, and doggone it, I am HOT enough to be who I want to be!” I really would love to hear you speak again. 🙂
    Hannah Niemczyk
    Red Lion Area High School
    Red Lion, PA

  8. Ashley :D on April 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Hi Harriet! I was at the JA conference a couple of days ago and may I say that it was a pleasure being there and being about to learn about finding a career! You speech fantastic and it really stuck with me, I’m not a very outgoing person and tend to act like other people.. But I realize that sometimes I need to do what I want to do because this is my life 🙂 so thank you so much for just helping me understand that! – Ashley

  9. Devin Keene on February 12, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    You are still my 2nd favorite guest speaker at DETLC

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