When I read the "My Personal Compass" announcement, I remembered an epiphany I had recently about my grandmother and the impact she had on my life. I always knew she was an important part of my childhood, but I had not truly understood how she influenced the values that guide me.

My grandmother consistently and quietly challenged convention. At the age of 16 she became the first person in her family and the first woman from her Cape Breton community to attend college. She eventually became a math teacher and discovered her passion and talent for helping young people grow. She was the kind of teacher students remember all their lives. Long after her retirement, former students would approach her in the community to tell her how much she meant to them.

While her accomplishments showed me the importance of being independent and doing what you love, I see now that it was her approach to people that had the most impact. I have often said that my family raised me to believe that everyone is important and worth knowing. My grandmother exemplified that philosophy by treating everyone with respect and clearly valuing every person she encountered. In her house, I met people from all races, religions and walks of life, and all were welcomed as equals.

Shortly after my grandmother died, I compiled some stories she had written about her life into a single booklet. As I was doing so, one statement jumped out at me. It was a clear expression of my own personal compass. In the words of my grandmother, Sally Johnston, "The most important thing is how we feel about people and how they feel about us. If we are accepted for what we are, if we look upon others with respect and understanding, we shall be richer for all the contacts we make."

I try to live by Grandma's ideals in all aspects of my life. And she is right – by approaching people with respect and genuine interest, I have come to know many amazing people, and I am a very rich person, indeed.

Keltie Jones is a coordinator in the Student Disability Center

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Clifton B. Parker, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,

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