I have always been interested in people and their stories.
When I turned in my first real paper at Davidson College, I thought I was one step closer to my degree in English. That is, until I received it back with more pages of critique than the actual assignment. This was pretty daunting, but a good lesson about working hard to realize your goals. I graduated from Davidson College in 1992 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in Gender Studies.
My interest in women’s issues led me to a job as a battered women and children’s advocate at CVAN Women’s Program in Concord, NC where I worked for almost eight years. My responsibilities there included providing advocacy services to women in the shelter, covering a 24-hour crisis line, and assisting women in court. These tasks required me to really listen to women’s stories – a real privilege – and to affirm their experience as the experts of their own situations.
I implemented a dating violence prevention program in local high schools and I received rave reviews from my students, including: “Mrs. Kercher is really cool. She acts like she ate too much sugar!” I was selected to serve on a 1996 NCADV resource project to create and publish a resource manual for teen advocates. I became the first Program Manager for CVAN’s Rape Crisis Program in 1998. I later served on the development team at The Family Center in Charlotte, NC, a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. The team raised a million dollars annually.
After retiring from the non-profit sector to become a stay-at-home mom, I eventually returned to school and graduated in 2009 from Queens University of Charlotte with a master’s degree in Organizational Communication or, apparently, a master’s in Writing About Myself. I loved graduate school and how it changed the way I looked at every day life. While many of my peers were writing about their jobs at Bank of America or Duke Energy or Carolinas Healthcare System, I wrote papers about Robert Earl Keen as the persuasive wise fool and Sarah Silverman’s use of the superiority theory of humor; I deconstructed my favorite Mommy Blogger and tried to answer crucial life questions like Will my marriage survive my husband’s love affair with his Blackberry? A more sophisticated grad school recap: My research interests included the social construction of personal identity, especially concerning women in the internet age. My thesis, “Word Unplugged: Transcending the New Social Communication Contract” explored the pitfalls of our “always on” culture, and advocated for meaningful, lasting connections through purposeful, powerful language. (Smarty pants!)
Graduate school rekindled a love of writing for me. I started blogging and wanted to write under a pen name. I decided to use an abbreviated version of my childhood nickname “Bessie Mae Mucho,” a silly southern take on the famous Spanish song “Bésame Mucho.” In February 2010 I became a skirtsetter blogger for skirt.com. I once won a writing contest for skirt and my prize was a copy of the book My Formerly Hot Life, which seemed cruelly apropos but still made my day . . . because there is nothing like putting yourself out there — and then feeling like someone gets you.
I have partnered with The Charlotte Observer, first as a contributor during the 2012 DNC with a daily editorial page column, Left Turn, Right Turn; and most recently with the blogs Worst Mom Ever, Miracle on Curbstone Street, Mom and Pop, Because Friends, Team Mom, and A Few Good Moms: Can you handle the truth? for MomsCharlotte on Charlotte.com. I have enjoyed writing for neighborhood publications and for the women’s civic group DVA Charlotte. And I am very excited to have found a place for my political musings on The Huffington Post.
I see stories all around me every day – and this is where I tell them.