At the invitation of the JBS Young Republicans, Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO, 2nd district) spoke to assembly on Thursday, October 30. She shared some of her personal history, talked about her commitment to the Metro St. Louis area, and highlighted the work she has done for the last two years in the U.S. House of Representatives. She also shared some personal advice for living a happy and productive life.
Wagner said she began working at the age of 12 in her family's retail carpet store where she "learned the value of a dollar, a strong work ethic and how to talk with people." Dreaming of being an opera singer, Wagner "sang her way through Mizzou" where she earned a BSBA (logistics). After college, she held management positions at Hallmark Cards and Ralston Purina. She entered public service as a local committeewoman in Lafayette Township in the early 90s. In 1999 she became chair of the Missouri Republican Party and in 2001 co-chair of the Republican National Committee. President Bush named Wagner U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg, a post she held from 2005 to 2009. When she returned to Missouri, she decided it was "time to put her own name on the yard signs" and ran for Missouri's second congressional district. She was elected two years ago and serves on the House Financial Services Committee; she was also selected by members of the freshman class of the current Congress to represent them on the Elected Leadership Committee. During the past two years, she has sponsored more than 200 pieces of legislation, including RIPA, the Retail Investor Protection Act, to protect access to affordable investments, and the SAVE Act, to give prosecutors tools to go after sex traffickers. She said other key priorities for her are involving more women in politics and public service, supporting veterans and assuring a strong defense. She said she does this for her kids, for her future grandchildren, for "all of you. ... I don't want you to inherit massive debt and Federal encroachment on your lives. I want you to feel safe — whether from terror, from ebola, from energy [scarcity]. And I want you to have the same shot at your dreams that your parents had."
She concluded with some "pearls of wisdom" she hoped weren't "too preachy."
- Be ready to say "yes." You never know what twists and turns...what forks in the road...might present themselves — and you have the unconditional love and support of your families which give you the freedom to say "yes."
- Be thankful for parents, family, faculty and friends.
- Make good choices. Learn how to sift through the information overload and always seek the truth.
- Stand up for your beliefs. You're obligated to speak for and defend your values.
- Find time to be joyful.
- Never fear failure.
- Have a servant's heart — you should serve something beyond yourself.
After assembly, individual students came to the stage to meet and continue the discussion Wagner began.