Imagine laying on your bed while watching television and moments later you get a phone call that would change your life forever. It’s a scenario that happened to me, and I could not be more thankful that it did!
I answered hesitantly, as it was a number I did not recognize. When I answered, it was Ms. Abbey Tillman who stated, “Consider this is an early Christmas present.” When she relayed the news to me that I had won the 2018 4‑H Youth in Action Citizenship Pillar Award, I was elated. I began to cry and scream, and all I remember saying to my grandmother was, “Grandma! I cannot believe this is happening. I won!” I could not help but feel so blessed.
Months prior to me receiving that phone call, I began my application process. I had to fill out forms, record a video and upload it to YouTube, and have an online interview with National 4-H Council. I patiently waited for months to hear back, and when I did, I felt reassured that my pillar work is much bigger than me.
Being the YIA Citizenship Pillar winner reminds me that I am serving a duty to my community and my 4-H Program. 4-H has been so instrumental in my life and earning the highest honors proves that 4-H is not just a program, it is a part of who I am. I get to advocate for youth like myself and encourage them never to allow obstacles to deter them from where they want to go in life.
This opportunity has truly been a humbling experience thus far. Getting to attend the Legacy Awards was amazing. I was able to interact with alumni, fellow 4-H youth, 4-H luminaries, representatives from my award sponsor Nationwide Insurance Company, employees from Lockheed Martin, National 4-H Council President & CEO Jennifer Sirangelo, and so many other 4-H members and distinguished guests. Walking on the green carpet and embracing the other pillar winners seemed so surreal, but I could not be more proud to say that our time is now!
My message to you, 4-H Youth, is to stay committed to reaching your goals. When you are passionate about something, go for it. Going through this application process reminded me that 4-H has provided me with a platform to grow and because of 4-H, I can say that I too am a True Leader. It is an opportunity of a lifetime, and you will never know what the outcome will be unless you try. So I encourage you to persevere despite the doubt you may feel, remain persistent, stay confident, and always follow your heart because you are never too young to have a voice. I will forever cherish the memories that the 4-H Youth in Action Award has provided me.
After that day, my life has changed for the better. You can do it!