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Greetings to my lovely friends and members of Big Ocean Women! My name is Holly Sweeten and I’ve been asked to take this wonderful opportunity to tell you about myself for our November newsletter.

First, I am happy to tell you that I serve with the cottage committee for BOW and it is truly an honor to help serve and assist great women of character throughout our world and local communities. I am learning so much from each of you that I have the privilege to associate with.

To begin, I am a native Utahn, and grew up in a family who believed in the American dream. When I was very little, I lived with my mother and grandparents who taught me the importance of faith, family, and freedom. My grandfather would tell me stories from his family history about brave relatives who came to a brand new America, who desired freedom and opportunity. One of those ancestors is the Native American Princess Matoaka, also known as Pocahontas. My family, as perhaps some of yours, fought wars, homesteaded land, built homes, served in communities, and made their way west across the country. Most of my ancestors ended up in Utah in the mid 1800’s. They helped to settle Utah from the very north to the very south by the late 1800’s. My deep gratitude and love for them has grown with each story of incredible grit shown  in pursuing their dreams and God’s will.

Growing up, our family came and went from Utah, as my dad served in the military. This was an important influence on me as I grew to be increasingly patriotic and also lived among those with diverse backgrounds. By the time I graduated high school in Salt Lake City, I had attended 14 different schools from all the moving around with my dad’s military transfers! 

After high school I had the life-altering experience of joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This has had the most profound influence in shaping my life of anything I have experienced. My faith has driven each decision I have made since I was an 18-year-old young woman. I do not know where my life would have taken me had I not found my God and my purpose. Soon after, I was able to serve a full-time mission to the people of the astonishingly beautiful land of South Africa. I have cherished memories of friends and leaders who helped shape my life there in a most profound way.

Since then, I have married and been a mother to four children and five stepchildren and one godson who are each wonderful and unique. They have each taught me much more than I think I have taught them! I was extremely blessed to be able to be home with my children full time while they were growing up. Usually, you could find me where my children were in their extra curricular activities. I volunteered and served where they were taking lessons or performing or playing sports. I was also involved in the community and instructed workout classes for over 20 years.

When my youngest was 13, I felt prompted to return to university. I knew God had a plan for me but I wasn’t sure what my future might look like. All I knew was that I had a passion for my country and for service.  In three years I was able to earn two degrees, a bachelor’s in behavioural sciences and the other in national security, where I fulfilled five internships and became a published author.

I began my career representing my church in a volunteer position in which I spent four months in New York City working with faith leaders and the diplomatic corps at the United Nations. I returned to Utah to work on a senate campaign and spent some time working for the United States Senate.

I then decided to continue work on high-impact projects as I developed into a consultant working on various projects,one being with the United Nations when they hosted their Civil Society Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had the honor of working with another international non-profit as they did a 9-month museum project in Utah. I have also worked especially with my Afghan refugee friends who have taken up residence here in Utah. I was able to connect BOW with them as well! 

Additionally, I have worked on a gubernatorial campaign and have assisted in other local campaigns. In this divisive political environment, I feel it critically important to be a reasonable voice, and help inspire others–particularly women–to stand up and speak out and get involved where they see a need and have the time to give. 

I became particularly interested in Big Ocean Women as I heard about them when I was working in New York City. I was especially impressed as I heard Carolina Allen’s remarkable beginnings and read through the tenets. They beautifully build on each other, and represent my hopes and wishes as an empowered female and one who wishes to empower others. The two tenets that speak deeply to my soul are “We seek knowledge and wisdom,” and “We believe in the Model of Powerful Impact.” Using wisdom and light, wrapped in love as our best influence to bless the lives of others, is one my deepest desires. 

As 2020 has been one of the most unique and difficult years we have collectively experienced, I have felt the stretching of my soul and seek to accept what God is trying to teach me. I am grateful for the refining influence. It has been hard at times, but I know I am being molded and shaped into a better version of myself. I am keenly aware that I yet lack much. 

In my free time my husband and I enjoy spending time together and have played more golf during COVID than we have ever played in our lives consistently. Spending time as a family is where our hearts are, and loving our four grandchildren is just the best! I enjoy staying abreast of all current world and national security issues, and I LOVE football and horse racing. Interior design has been a hobby throughout the years and I also enjoy family history immensely! 

As I conclude my words here I would offer a small amount of hard-earned advice to all women everywhere: You are powerful! You are strong! Your life is imperfectly perfect to learn and to teach, to love and share, and lift others as you climb. We as women around the world are uniquely gifted to empower others and warm them with the light we have been given. You are good enough now to accomplish this and more. You always have been. Let us lock arms and support each other on this journey called life! 

Thank you so much for the opportunity to share a little bit about me and my family. Hope to meet and work with each of you in the coming days and years to come! 

Holly Sweeten