Why did KCPR change my life? I learned that our inherent talent can be enough to tackle new challenges and succeed, whether or not you are ready or even understand what you are getting into. My time with the station gave me confidence that I could find myself in a new situation and figure out how to get from here to there. Without KCPR at that pivotal time, I might not have had the courage that eventually transported [me] to a place where I exceeded any hope or dream I might have had when I landed at Cal Poly.
I grew up poor. My father was a laborer on the Southern Pacific Railroad, and died of a heart attack when I was 12. My mother suffered from bipolar disorder, and only barely held things together. I was handed off to relatives or friends of relatives for several long periods of time. I had no lofty goals or expectations for the future based on my life experience. I remember thinking that grocery store checkers made good money and, since my parents knew the owners of a local store perhaps, that would be something I could aspire to.
I had two good breaks early on. In high school, I entered the Vocational Agriculture program and became involved with the local Future Farmers of America chapter. That gave me the courage to imagine myself actually going to college as I saw others do. Cal Poly was a top college choice for anyone involved with farming, ranching or agriculture. With the help of scholarships, I enrolled as an animal science major in 1971 and graduated in 1975.
My second break occurred when a friend talked me into volunteering at KCPR and I signed up for the DJ training class. A whole new world opened up. I started typing out log sheets and, eventually, became a DJ trainer, then finally General Manager of the station. I enjoyed my alter-ego Morgana Hill. Everything about working at KCPR was exciting and satisfying. It was like being part of a giant experiment, where the kids ran the business. We had a lot of fun, but it was also a serious undertaking and gave all of the staff an opportunity to take on a real mission.
My time at KCPR was probably more important in preparing me for life than any of my academics at Cal Poly – although those were also the best experiences anyone could hope to have. Through KCPR, I learned what it was to be a leader, to take responsibility, to coach others and work in a team and I had a chance to learn those lessons early.
I added a second major since KCPR was part of the journalism program. I found I had a knack for writing. After graduation, I started out as a technical writer and [that] progressed quickly [in]to a project manager position in Bank of America’s information systems organization. I had the opportunity to head up a project investigating how regional ATM networks provided security to their cardholders and, in a few years, I became Vice President of Information Security at Bank of America.
I am proud to have been an influence in defining the computer security industry. I helped create the professional organization “Information Systems Security Association” and develop their certification process. I was asked to head the Data Security Committee of the American Bankers Association and testified before Congress on behalf of the Computer Security Act of 1984, which created the federal computer crime statute in the United States. I left Bank of America and joined Deloitte Consulting to help build their first information security practice.
I later moved to the field of marketing and reimagined my career. In a few years, I was responsible for marketing, advertising and P[ublic] R[elations] for a $2 billion technology organization. I eventually retired from full-time work and consulted part-time for the rest of my career. I was a very long way from the beginning of my journey, but it was an exciting and satisfying one. Since then, I have spent my time enjoying the beauty of the Lake Tahoe area and traveling about half the time.
I look back now and realize that one of the most precious gifts I received from my time at KCPR was a lifelong appreciation of music that enhances my life to this day. I have been fully retired and [I’m] in my mid-60s now. I sometimes dream that I am back at Cal Poly. Sometimes I’ve just arrived and can’t find my class, sometimes I am about to graduate and can’t figure out if I have enough credits. I wake up and recognize that there is still magic hovering about this time and place for me.