There was an eighth grader in the backwoods of East Texas who thought she was destined to stay there until her English teacher introduced her to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She read that book and realized that the author was from Stamps, Arkansas -- a town that was right down the street from her. At that point, she knew that it was possible for people from the country to do great things.
That girl grew up to become a woman who's lived almost all of her dreams. And although she never laid eyes on that author, she DID get a chance to tell her how her work affected her life. The author was gracious when she didn't have to be, and taught that girl another lesson in how to handle praise.
As the tributes pour in for Dr. Maya Angelou, I hope that she passed away knowing that her life made a difference. Especially to me. RIP to one of my first heroes. Our world is a better place because she was in it.