A bead of sweat formed on my forehead and my heart was pumping blood at a rate that was foreign to me. There I was, sitting in a cushioned seat, waiting to be called up to speak in front of a camera which would stream live to the entire nation. “Three, two, one. We are live. Welcome everyone, welcome to the White House Climate Change Event.”
I will never forget this event as it was a culmination of four years of hard work where I learned to put my effort into helping others improve our planet, accumulating over 1000 hours of community service in the process. Through making my school fully sustainable with recycling, eliminating plastic bottles, and formulating techniques to spread climate education resources around the country I now understand that I am the one person on a dark street who can light one match and travel down the roads helping others light theirs. My match would never make a difference, however when all of the small dots of light conjoin, only then the street brightens and shines.
In January of this year, the National Keep America Beautiful conference was held in beautiful Orlando, Florida. As part of the National Youth Council, members are given a generous grant to pilot clean ups and foster change in their respective communities, ultimately becoming leaders in the environmental activities they perform. The conference itself was simply outstanding because, even at my young 18 years of age, I have experienced the strong backlash that some people can express against the idea of humans impacting our environment. Being in an area filled with passionate, driven, and powerful individuals relating the environment was revitalizing and renewed my own personal strive to enact as much change as possible in any community that I stepped foot in.
To further continue educating myself on the environmental and renewable energy sources, I decided to take a chance and apply to the Yale Young Global Scholars Sustainability, Energy, and Environment summer program. Although incredibly competitive, I was granted admissions and will be on my way to New Haven, Connecticut for two challenging but fulfilling weeks during this summer. Without having been exposed to the Green Schools National Conference, be given a chance to serve as an NGSS delegate, and hold varying officer positions, my life would have been incredibly different. Not only would I have never been exposed to some of the most inspiring individuals that I have ever met in my life, but I would have not had the strong foundation for my own individuality to grow. My passion has only increased to incredible heights and will continue to develop as I strive to educate others on what I have learned.
Initially, the White House invitation email appeared fraudulent. In only three days I found myself as the only high school student seated next to three brilliant Stanford, Colombia, and William Marry scholars. As I left the majestic landmark with the magnificent Robin Organ by my side, I was left with one lasting impression. I finally understood that to be a successful myself, I must rise by lifting others and help them light their own matches so that together, our fire can become dazzling and illuminate our paths towards a better future.
Thank you to Green Schools for providing the most astounding opportunities that I have ever experienced.