One of my main passions is education. I constantly work hard to excel at school, but my love for learning goes beyond that; I believe that knowledge is the key to growth and development, and because of this, I do my best to educate myself and the people around me.

Along with this, I love to write. I currently write for the Kittson County Enterprise, but alongside that, I love to write reflective essays, journals, and poetry. What I love about writing is that it allows me to express my thoughts and ideas clearly and thoroughly. Writing gives me the ability to communicate my perspective to the people around me, and I believe that writing is the most powerful tool I possess. I plan to use my writing abilities to benefit others, not just myself.

My favorite thing to do is engage with people– to listen to them and get to know their stories. I love to interact with others in a way that is more than just conversational– in a way that goes beyond the surface. I strive to do this everywhere I go, but especially at school and at work. I work at a nursing home, and my best moments there have been spent with the residents.

I also really love being a leader. Leadership constantly pushes me out of my comfort zone, but this is something I’ve really come to enjoy. Leadership gives me the opportunity to work with amazing people and help them achieve a common goal. I like to be a leader in all that I do, while still being open-minded enough to be led.

All of my aforementioned interests tie into my passion for social progress. I ardently stand for issues like LGBT+ equality, gender equality, and racial equality. To me, these issues are not about the politics– they’re about the people. I believe in building bridges and establishing ties. In order to accomplish either of these things in any circumstance, I believe that we need to educate each other, engage with each other, lead each other, and contribute our individual gifts (e.g., writing) to our causes. I aim to do these things in all of my endeavors, be it during my internship with Project Wildness, throughout my college experience, or in my future careers.

My favorite projects have been accomplished through teamwork. In the summer of 2014, my best friend and I left mason jars and pamphlets on people’s doorsteps to raise pocket change for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. We ended up raising $603 in two weeks. This spring, our National Honor Society chapter needed ideas for our annual project, and I made a proposal for a week-long “Anti-Hunger Games” food drive involving the elementary and high school students. Each class alliance formed a district– in the true Hunger Games style– and all of the students were encouraged to bring a certain kind of food item each day. By the end of the week, we had collected over 1,200 pounds of food for our local food pantry.

In the near future, I want to start a program in Hallock, MN, that emphasizes the importance of engaging with nursing home residents. This would start out with gathering volunteers and assigning each person to visit a resident. After even just a short visit with one of the residents, it’s pretty easy to recognize his or her interests. Because of this, the volunteers would be encouraged to make a craft for their appointed resident that resonates with his or her interests. The craft could be anything– a painting, a handmade bracelet, a framed picture, a blanket, etc. The purpose of this is to make the residents feel appreciated and loved, while also showing volunteers how much of an impact a brief visit makes.

Career-wise, I want to study political science and English in college and start out as a political speech writer. At some point of my life, I’d love to teach language arts or speech at the high school level.

I look forward to being a part of Project Wildness because I know that it will allow me to interact with some amazing people. It will expand my perspective of the world around me, and it will undoubtedly push me out of my comfort zone. I hope to become a better leader during my internship with you guys. I believe that Project Wildness will further prepare me to start my own projects and programs when I go off to college.

One of my biggest heroes is Alexander Hamilton. An orphan from a remote island in the Caribbean, Hamilton moved to New York by himself when he was 19 years old. He was profoundly passionate about education, and he was determined to work his way out of poverty. He had an immense talent for writing, and this was soon recognized by one of the most renowned men during his time– George Washington. Working his way up from being Washington’s right hand man, Hamilton managed to accomplish more than most people do in the average lifetime: he wrote the vast majority of the Federalist Papers, he was a part of the Continental Congress, he established the national bank, he was the founder of the Coast Guard, and he was the first treasury secretary. Hamilton exhibited incredible determination and ambition, and he never allowed his circumstances to obstruct his path to success. He was an immigrant who contributed more to the foundation of the U.S. than most of the other Founding Fathers, and I greatly admire him.         

My favorite quote is one by the anthropologist Margaret Mead. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”