Not long after graduation, students left lingering on campus were soon greeted by the chiming sounds of the ever familiar chapel organ. Wake Forest University welcomed friends and family of the phenomenal woman, Maya Angelou, this past Saturday for a memorial service celebrating her life-long legacy.  Her family was gracious enough to share their memories with the world through a live web stream.


An advocate for teaching and giving joy, spreading her influence as a professor at Wake became yet another title to add to Angelou’s ongoing list of accomplishments. Watching world leaders share their stories made this correspondent feel grateful for having the opportunity to study in a place where individuality is treasured.   Angelou is perhaps the poster-child of a truly individual spirit. She “serenely disregarded the rules” as First Lady Michelle Obama reflected, and although she grew up barely speaking, she “then had the best voice on the planet because God loaned her His,” added former President Bill Clinton. Her contacts were diverse and varied, but she treated everyone with sincere, unapologetic authenticity, a trait her fellow cast member, Cicely Tyson, remembered fondly.


Angelou lives on as an unfaltering spirit because of the countless individuals she personally guided. Oprah continues to be a devoted student of hers, citing that living our legacies is a personal choice to be conquered daily. For Angelou, an individual’s legacy can be traced in any person we ever touched. We all have the potential to become a Maya Angelou for someone else. The challenge lies in upholding our responsibility.


With enough experiences to fill five lifetimes, Angelou remains a piece of American history. She demonstrated that life is a gift manifest in each new day. Her attitude could perhaps be captured in her favorite song, “I Hope You Dance,” performed as a musical tribute by Lee Ann Womack during the service.


Choosing to live life joyously is something Angelou did phenomenally. The ones she inspired can only hope to live as fully as Angelou. The original master’s spirit is felt now more than ever as she once again completes a beautiful transition. The difference is that this time, it is to the stars.


How have Maya Angelou’s words inspired you on your own life’s journey? Feel free to share in the comments or tweet me @Kelseymbro