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by Abigail Van Buren

Girl With Big Dream Is Encouraged to Go for It

DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "I Have a Dream," the 13-year-old girl who wants to be president of the United States, while en route to meet with our state assemblyman and senator. I have never written a Dear Abby letter before; however, that girl's letter touched my heart. I am angry she is being ridiculed.

When I was in elementary school and told people that I wanted to be a doctor, they told me that my dream was also impossible. There were few women doctors then. We were poor, so I started my career in nursing school. I worked my way through college and medical school. Today, I am not only a doctor, but also a teacher in medical school.

Please tell that young girl to ignore those who are jealous of her and to strive for her goals. She can do it!

Today, I met a young man in his 20s. He is the legislative director to Sen. Nick Spano of the New York state Senate. I asked his advice for "I Have a Dream." He said:

(1) First, do not listen to those who laugh at you or don't support you.

(2) Stay involved in your knowledge of current events.

(3) Read the newspaper.

(4) Become involved in your community. This is how you meet people. You may be able to volunteer for someone during this election year.

(5) Run for school office/student government.

It is also a good idea to have a mentor -- someone in government or politics -- and always stay in touch with him or her.

As I was leaving the New York State Capitol building, there was an exhibit showing photographs of women in New York state senior government positions. They numbered 47!

I hope this inspires that girl and gives her the courage to follow her dream. I wish her all the best -- and hope she'll let us know when she runs for her first office. -- FRANCES MCGILL, M.D., BRONXVILLE, N.Y.

DEAR DR. MCGILL: I concur with you on all points. Bless you for the wonderful pep talk. I'm betting your letter inspires many more young women than the one who wrote. You're a wonderful role model. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: This message is for the little girl who dreams of being president. I saw a bumper sticker once that should encourage her: "A woman's place is in the House ... the Senate ... and the Oval Office." -- FEMINIST IN AUBURN, ALA.

DEAR FEMINIST: I agree. A woman's place is wherever she wants to be, and feels she can make a contribution.

DEAR ABBY: When I was 11, I decided I wanted to be an astronaut. Peers and adults laughed. They said I was silly to think a girl (and a poor one at that) could ever become an astronaut or even study science.

Due to vision problems, I never became an astronaut. But I did earn a Ph.D. in a scientific field. I am a tenured professor at a research-oriented university. So, who's laughing now? I am! -- RHONDA A. HYDE, Ph.D.

DEAR DR. HYDE: And I'm laughing with you. A woman can travel as far as her dream can take her -- and sometimes even beyond. More on this subject tomorrow.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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