Calling on her father's dinner-table wisdom remembered from her childhood, Congresswoman Martha Roby told Troy University students on Wednesday that they could achieve anything they wanted to achieve as long as they were willing to work for it.
The event was presented by the University's Motivating and Instilling Sophisticated Students into an Elite Society (M.I.S.S. Elite), a student organization seeking to help students realize their full potential through building self-confidence, molding leadership skills and emphasizing good character and proper personal appearance.
"I grew up in a home where my dad said often around the dinner table, 'You can be anything you want to be.' I felt really empowered by those words," Rep. Roby said. "It never occurred to me that I would face challenges because I was a woman. I believed that I could be anything I wanted to be because my dad told me so."
It was that determination that has seen Roby successfully transition from the desire to rise to the top in the music industry to becoming a lawyer to her current role of public servant.
"We make all of these plans and God just kind of laughs," she said. "Life is going to provide you with a lot of twists and turns. Life truly is about finding balance. Women don't have to choose between having a career and having a family. You can have both. You need to have a good support system of friends and family in place and you can't be unwilling to ask for help."
During her first semester of law school at Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Roby met her future husband, Riley. The two decided that, once married, they would make their home in Montgomery and serve their community.
Roby entered public service in Montgomery, winning election to the City Council by "outworking the other candidates" on the campaign trail. In 2010, she was elected to serve Alabama's second Congressional District. However, the road to Washington was littered with plenty of skeptics along the way, Roby recalled.
"When the opportunity for me to run for Congress presented itself, I heard from a lot of people who were skeptical that I was doing the right thing," Rep. Roby said. "Whatever path you choose, you have to believe in yourself. Along with that belief you have to be able to execute. You have to be able to say, 'I don't care who is telling that I can't succeed,' and you have to be willing to work hard to reach your goals. It isn't just going to fall in your lap; it takes hard work and determination."