From a young age, Karli has marched to the beat of her own drum. This girly tomboy loved being outdoors, on stage, arts, animals and superheroes. On year for Halloween, Karli wanted to be Batman more than anything. Because she's a girl, her grandma made an adorable bat costume instead. That didn't stop her from being "Batman." She jumped off benches and swing-sets, saving the day from bad guys in her neighborhood... in that bat costume, rocking a bowl-cut. With creativity and imagination you can be whatever or whoever you want - no matter what anyone says. 25 years later, Karli still lives by that motto.
Like most other middle school kids, Karli was awkward, goofy and wanted nothing more to fit in. She was bullied and harassed for being small, loud and different. "Friends" harassed her on the bus, at lunch and online by making fun of her size, and asking uncomfortable questions. Although she had close friends and family she could talk to, she never spoke up for help.
Karli had the typical high school experience. She was involved with student organizations, drama, dance, band and choir. She had great friends and what she thought, was the perfect boyfriend. He was intelligent, handsome, kind and generous. He showered her with flowers, gifts and poetry. He was perfect, or so she thought.
As a Freshmen in College, Karli slowly started to realize her relationship was becoming unhealthy and needed to end. Because he never physically hit her, it never crossed her mind this was abuse. Through the support of friends, she finally mustered the courage to break it off. It wasn't until years later she realized this was dating violence.
Two months after ending this abusive relationship, her campus, Northern Illinois University, experienced campus-wide tragedy. A gunman walked into the largest lecture hall, opening fire, killing five students including her friend, Gayle. Slowly Karli's college experience began to turn into something she dreaded.
Two years later Karli was sexually assaulted by a close friend. She was fine with saying, "he took advantage of me," but couldn't call it rape. Like most victims, she blamed herself. She didn't know whom to turn to. She felt defeated. Year after year violence seemingly took over her life and the lives of her loved ones. As her grades began to slip and her health declined, Karli felt like giving up. While she could have continued to let these traumas consume her, Karli finally reached out to the professional support she needed. She was tired of letting violence overcome her. Through this amazing transformation Karli completed her Bachelor of Arts in Communication, graduating with numerous leadership awards, while turning her traumas into a successful and inspiring career.