Last year, I attended the Courageous Conversations Conference in Austin, Texas, a conference focused on being bold when addressing important issues. As a speaker myself, I gained a great deal of insight and have implemented an exercise to use when introducing myself to a new audience. The presenters started every session with questions for each attendee: What is your name, place and intention? 

This seemingly simple exercise is a great way to ensure that people know who you are, where you come from, and what you plan to accomplish in the time you will share together.

To that end, my name is Melodie Graves. Melodie because my mom said I was a sweet melody in her heart, choosing to end my name with an “ie” so I would be destined to stand out. My surname, Graves, has German and Irish roots that somehow got tangled up in the Transatlantic slave trade. 

My place is Amarillo, Texas, born and raised. I grew up in the North Heights and was bused to Lamar Elementary School and Fannin Middle School before graduating in 1998 from Amarillo High School. 

My intention, as I begin to share my thoughts in this column, will be to encourage and inspire you, remind you to stop and smell the roses, and help you not be afraid to learn about our differences so we may become a more inclusive society. I hope you will be motivated to put fear aside and live your best life—knowing that you deserve it. Over the time we spend together, we will discuss issues with the goal of finding common ground to help us grow in our understanding. We don’t always have to agree, but we will always respect each other and promise to always love each other.  

When love is the foundation, beautiful things can be built and hearts and minds can be changed. 

As an influencer, I want to have a trademark. For me, that trademark is the diamond. Not because it is a beautiful stone, but because of the transformation it goes through to achieve such beauty. The diamond begins as a rock, but when pressure is applied, it becomes desirable and valuable. Many of us start out like a diamond, and then life starts to throw things at us. While we often want to give up, we continue to push through, hoping that our time to be beautiful and sought after will come. 

The pressure can seem unbearable. But if we stand and believe that something greater is coming, it will indeed come, and we will shine brighter through every challenge.  

That’s a good message to remember as another school year begins. As we prepare to send our kids back to school, we must remember that they are nothing like we were growing up. They are inquisitive and unconditionally accepting. They love technology but can’t write in cursive, and they are going to be the ones who will make this world a better place. Since there is no manual to being a good parent, today The Call is for you to give yourself grace as you attempt to raise children to be leaders, better than we are. 

Whatever your morning routine, remember that you set the stage for your child’s day. If you are angry and yelling, they will start their day off poorly. If you are rushing and demanding, you are not only ruining your own day, but also your child’s. As a single parent, I must consistently remind myself that how I leave my son is how his day will end. I wake up early enough to not rush, prepare everything the night before, and when my boy gets out of the car, I tell him “Have a good day, I love you.” 

Some days, things don’t go as planned, but I have learned to give myself the same grace I give others—the same grace you deserve on this journey we call life. 


  • Melodie Graves

    Raised in the North Heights, Melodie is dedicated to service that goes above and beyond her career in higher education. She has worked at Amarillo College since 2010, currently serving as the Associate Director of Academic Advising, Foster Care Liaison and Justice-Involved Advocate. Melodie shares her thoughts about inclusivity, inspiration and answering The Call.

    View all posts