My first reaction on hearing that Ann Bancroft was slated to be this year’s Baccalaureate speaker, was – Huh? I thought she passed away a few years ago – I was, of course, mistaking her for the other Ann Bancroft. This Ann Bancroft is living the life most actors might dream of portraying.

From the college announcement, we read:

Author, teacher and explorer, Bancroft was born in St. Paul, Minn., in 1955. Bancroft received her B.S. in physical education from the University of Oregon. She then became a wilderness instructor and gym teacher in Minneapolis before giving up her teaching post in 1986 to join the Will Steger International North Pole Expedition. After traveling for 56 days by dogsled, Bancroft, along with five other team members, arrived at the North Pole. The trip totaled 1000 miles starting from the Northwest Territories in Canada, and Bancroft was the only female member of the team.
In 1993, Bancroft led the American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole, which consisted of a 67-day, 660-mile long trip on skis. In 2001, Bancroft and Liv Arnesen became the first team of women to ski across Antarctica’s landmass.
Bancroft maintains a passion for teaching children. In addition to her teaching in Minneapolis, she has coached a variety of sports. In 2001, she founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation, a nonprofit organization that celebrates the achievements of women and girls. Bancroft is also included in a documentary featuring celebrities who have dealt with learning disabilities, as she was diagnosed with dyslexia as a child.

Moving on to the Anne Bancroft Foundation, we read about her Dare to Dream program,where “micro grants” of up to $500 are awarded to fund experiences for underserved girls…and her annual Dream Maker Awards created to celebrate those who “encourage and support the achievements of girls and women”.

With partner, Liv Arnesen, Bancroft co-founded Bancroft Arnesen Explore, where if you click on 2012, you can read about their upcoming adventure in which they will “lead a team of six women, from six continents, on an 800 mile, 80-day long expedition to the South Pole. It is no wonder she’s been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

At The Yale Center For Creativity and Dyslexia, we hear how her disability has informed who she has become:

“It’s given me strength. I feel lucky, and I couldn’t say that as a child.” Ann has gone from hiding her disability, as she did for her first expedition, to talking about it with other students with learning disabilities. She has given a voice to dyslexia, one where she is not ashamed of her disability, but rather feels proud that she is among others in a group of other “fantastic, brilliant, exciting people.”

Indeed, what a life! I look forward to hearing more from her.

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