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How Star Trek Changed My Life... by Ro Laurie Reddick

How Star Trek Changed My Life... by Ro Laurie Reddick recently asked fans to comment on the ways in which Star Trek has influenced their lives. One particular fan's note caught our attention and we asked her to elaborate, which she's done in the form of a special guest blog. So fans, please meet Ro Laurie Reddick and check out her personal account of how Trek changed her life... and if you're interested in sharing YOUR story, let us know.

The year was 1966, and I was 10 years old.  I sat in front of the TV with one of my older brothers and my mom and watched this new science fiction show with this spaceship and a pointy-eared alien that my mom seemed to moon over, which completely grossed me out. How could she not like that captain guy? He was so awesome! But by 1969 the show called Star Trek was off the air. Little did that youthful me know just how much that short-lived science fiction show would come to impact the rest of my life in so many ways.

Fast forward to 1989. I had just gotten my undergraduate degree and was accepted to Florida State University for graduate school in English. Star Trek was back with a new generation, and its fandom was growing in leaps in bounds. My love for the show had never died, so when I saw a flyer for a Star Trek club starting up at the university, I joined. It was the Tallahassee chapter of Starfleet: The International Star Trek Fan Association. There were only about seven or eight people at that meeting, but I met a tall, quiet, but funny guy I immediately took a liking to. Over the months of meetings we became fast friends, and he and I eventually took over running the club. That's when Trek really began to change my life.

Trek affected my social interactions. I lived and breathed Star Trek. I truly believed in the IDIC philosophy (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations), as did most of the 100-member club. As such, we welcomed and cherished people from all walks of life, and our club became a safe haven for the kind of people who had trouble fitting in elsewhere: gays, lesbians, mentally challenged, physically challenged, geeks and nerds. We were living Gene Roddenberry's humanist dream.

Trek affected my world view: I came to realize through the club, that yes, the future depicted in Star Trek was utopian, but if we were to have even the smallest part of it in our very real future, we had to start working on it now. That belief got me working in my community through the club and donating my time with charities and other organizations to help make the world a better place -- and help me become a better person.

Trek affected my education: Star Trek even influenced my higher education.  My master's thesis for English literature was to be about Star Trek -- Kirk as the "Everyman" (although due to financial reasons, I was unable to complete my schooling). I also took an English literature class in Star Trek offered at FSU one semester.

Trek affected my life plan: Remember that tall quiet guy I met in the club? He went on to become my husband. We got married at a Star Trek convention, of course. I was in a Starfleet uniform and he was decked out as a Klingon, and we were married by a Bajoran Kai. My maid of honor was Chase Masterson (Leeta, the Dabo girl, from DS9, who I had met and become friends with at a previous convention).  Several months later, I had my first child – a girl -- and her middle name is Kathryn, named for, you guessed it -- Captain Kathryn Janeway.

Finally, Trek changed my identity: Given the name Laurie at birth, I chose a Bajoran persona while in the Star Trek club. Since we knew very few Bajorans, I liked the name Ro and became Ro Jarin. My friends began calling me Ro and I liked it better than Laurie. At a couple of different jobs, I was being confused with people with similar names, so I began going by Ro for simplicity. Finally, after about 15 years of it, I decided to make it legal.

Now it's 2014, I'm nearly 58 and I still love Star Trek. Though I no longer live and breathe it, I still buy toys and T-shirts, attend Trek-related events and I'm still a member in good standing with Starfleet -- a Rear Admiral, finally! And I am forever grateful for the indelible mark it has left on my life.