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!