BISMARCK, N.D (KXNET) — It should come as a little surprise that many of the remarkable women in our communities have had remarkable women in their own lives.
“I had a third-grade teacher who was amazing,” recalled Dr. Victoria Arneson. “Mrs. Fleck. She taught at Richholt Elementary in Bismarck. And she was fantastic. I don’t even remember the academics she taught me. I just remember that she was so kind and so loving. And I wasn’t getting that where I needed it, and so she was that for me.”
Arneson knew from that moment she wanted to teach — which she did for more than a decade before earning her doctorate in curriculum instruction.
“I knew at a higher level I’d be able to make more change for the students,” said Arneson.
Unfortunately, the path to becoming remarkable doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes life puts some roadblocks and obstacles in our way.
“Growing up, I lived in a home with alcoholics and things like that,” Arneson explained. “There was a lot of trauma. It was difficult. And then when I got married at a very young age, I had a domestic abuse situation, and I was a single mom, and it was hard to get through all that and make sure I was doing what I need to do.”
There were even those who doubted her abilities as a child, something she recalls even today.
“I remember a second-grade teacher telling my mom that she didn’t think I would graduate high school because I was so slow,” Arneson stated. “And I remember being in that meeting and thinking, ‘why would you say that about a kid?'”
But she would go on to prove her doubters wrong and earn her bachelor’s degree — while also raising her children as a single mom.
“When my son was born, I had to take a chemistry final and I didn’t have a babysitter,” Arneson recounted. “And my teacher, Suzanne Zimmerman, — still to this day I remember, she watched my son while I took my final. And those are the type of remarkable women that have continued to support me. And without those people, I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Knowing what it’s like to struggle and balance a job with schoolwork, Arneson started scholarships to help students who may be going through their own challenges.
“My grandma just passed away a few weeks ago,” stated Arneson, “and she was an amazing woman who told me all the time: ‘Education. Nobody will take away your education. Get your education, Vic. Get it done.’ So I continued to move forward. So that scholarship is in memory of her now.”
Sometimes though, life’s greatest lessons aren’t found within the pages of textbooks. They’re found in the words of wisdom we learn from others.
“The best thing you can ever do is be happy,” Arneson stated. “Making sure everything you do every single day brings other people joy. And if you have the ability that you can donate money, or you can give your time, or you can just be supportive to somebody, do it. That’s what life is about. It’s not about anything else but giving back to other people.”
Just one of the lessons she shares with others that makes Arneson so remarkable.