Many people have complimented Sonia on her moving comments at the Junior Achievement Wichita Business Hall of Fame tribute dinner. So, we decided to share them here. The big takeaway? Mentors matter. And when they’re your parents, even better.
I hit the lottery at my birth, as the daughter of Ken and Judy Greteman.
We didn’t have a lot of money. We had something better. Time. Dad coached my softball and basketball teams teaching me early lessons in teamwork, how much fun it is to win. But if you lose, do it with dignity. Learn from it and move on.
He taught me how to use a camera at an early age and how to print photos in our basement darkroom. It was gratifying to see the images come to life, discovering light and shadow. We had a little photo business at 81 Speedway, with real paying clients. Dad snapped the shots of the proud drivers next to their jalopies. We printed them during the week and I sold the prints, working the photo booth every Saturday night. $1.25 for an 8 x 10, black-and-white glossy.
It was then and there I decided that someday I wanted my own business.
He instilled in me a strong work ethic, but the best lesson he taught me was to whistle a happy tune. Anyone who knows dad knows what I am talking about here.
Keep your head up and do the right thing.
Mom was my Brownie and Girl Scout leader, helping me with badges, camping, selling cookies, building social skills and planting early seeds about community involvement. Mom taught me to stand up for myself, have an opinion and not be afraid to share my point of view. She was a role model. I witnessed her writing numerous letters to the editor when she felt teachers deserved better or politicians were not making the right decisions.
Each year during her teaching career, she made sure her underprivileged students had coats and gloves when the winter winds began to blow. She built the TOP library in Oaklawn (with a little help from the Downings) and worked hard to make it her own.
She was an early activist teaching me it’s your duty to speak up, and help out. Make your corner of the world a better place.
I had the best of both worlds with my folks. My dad, the easy- going, entrepreneurial, Boeing photographer. My mom, the activist librarian, reader and researcher who understood the power of a well- placed word.
I’m lucky to love what I do for a living – I get to make things every day, using the skills I was taught in childhood. Combining word and image to create something bigger. More powerful and lasting.
I’ve had many mentors, friends, and people who have believed in me over the years and I’m grateful for all of them. Everyone in this room knows you can’t go it alone. But I was fortunate to have JA in my DNA. Not all kids have that advantage. Nothing beats getting these lessons early and often. Thank you, mom and dad.
I thank Junior Achievement for its good work and the recognition of Greteman Group.
I thank Mike Michaelis, Patricia McDonnell and my husband of 33 years, Chris Brunner, for their heartfelt comments included in the video. I hope tonight raises a significant amount of money to help young girls dream big. I’m honored to be included with Bob Geist and Steve Cox and appreciate our corner of the world; Wichita, Kansas. Big enough for opportunity, small enough to care.