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Polo Reo Tate, a Lansing native and the great-great-granddaughter of automotive pioneer Ransom E. Olds, was eager to accept the challenges that awaited her as she headed to the U.S. Air Force Academy after high school. However, Tate was not prepared for the harassment as well as the physical, emotional and sexual abuse from her peers and superiors that greeted her arrival — a horrific personal journey of survival and resilience Tate unflinchingly chronicles in her memoir, “Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival.”

Tate will be sharing her story, insight and inspiration as the keynote speaker at Olivet College’s 2019 Cultivating Women Leaders (CWL) event March 22. An initiative of the Olivet College Women’s Leadership Institute, CWL is designed to inform and equip young women to embrace their inner strength and realize their potential as responsible leaders. The daylong event offers networking opportunities for current and prospective Olivet College students as well as working women and community members. Attendees will also develop personally and professionally under the guidance of significant women business leaders in the state and successful Olivet College alumnae.

As a high school varsity volleyball player in the Western Athletic Conference, Tate’s athletic and academic abilities earned her acceptance to both the Air Force Academy as well as the U.S. Military Academy. Following a passion for the Air Force that dated back to her childhood, Tate pursued the former opportunity. Although Tate’s harrowing experiences at the U.S. Air Force Academy triggered her departure from the school in her second year, her story doesn’t end there.

She restarted her college education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in film, television and theater. Today she lives in New York City working as a writer, actress, artist and comedian. She has performed at companies such as the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, Broadway Comedy Club, Reckless Theatre and Training Center, and the Peoples Improv Theater.

Tate’s compelling and eye-opening odyssey of grace and reclamation as well as her courageous and positive outlook on life serves as motivation for women of all ages. She will join some of Michigan’s most successful female business leaders as well as Olivet College alumnae as featured speakers at the 2019 Cultivating Women Leaders event.

“The single most beneficial thing that we can do for one another — as leaders, as women, as humans — is to create space, a judgement-free curiosity, in which the person before us can be fully seen, heard and felt,” Tate said. “The Women’s Leadership Institute is a brilliant example of creating that very space and cultivating incredible listeners, learners and leaders to exemplify what we need more of in this world. It’s an honor and pleasure to be part of celebrating such a noble mission.”

Registration for the CWL event opens Feb. 1. The fee is $100 for the general public. Current and prospective students, faculty and staff members of Olivet College may attend for free. Learn more or email wli@olivetcollege.edu for questions.

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