“Education is the hardest teacher because she gives the test first and the lessons later”- Mickey Mantle
Stepping onto the dull looking bus filled with countless faces teeming with testosterone and confusion was the first step I took into a life changing experience that will be burned into my mind for the rest of my life. The earlier quote is one that I never imagined would be so important to me; it reflects what I was soon to learn and who I was soon to become.
A few months ago I was awarded a scholarship that offered to pay the full tuition necessary to go to Boys State, a nationally recognized program that has fostered countless leaders all across the nation, including past United States President Bill Clinton, newsman and author Tom Brokaw and even astronaut Neil Armstrong! In fact as a Boys Nation senator from his home state of Arkansas, former President Bill Clinton got the opportunity to meet with past President John F. Kennedy, and in that moment it is said that he made a crucial life changing decision that would ultimately set him up for success. On the way to Central Washington University, I contemplated this part of President Clinton’s life but I didn’t understand the full extent what I was about to experience until I had gone through this race to learn as much as possible and came out through the end to the finish line…and the food.
I felt impassioned, excited, and overwhelmed with joy as I thought of all that I had heard about Boys State from past alumni as well as what my American Legion Post members had said to me, “It’s not what you learn but how you use your knowledge.” I honestly didn’t give this much thought as I came to learn that there was A LOT of information being thrown my way. I took the time to get to know my peers, the people that I would be spending the next long, mind boggling, productive six days with. I met people who were completely different from me socially, physically, and with different mindsets and values. In the process of getting to know every body’s names and how they differed I learned one important thing: We were all leaders in some way and we all had something unique to contribute to our community and ultimately to our beloved nation as future leaders of America!
The days passed, slowly yet productively, and I felt that I had grown out of a childish mindset and into what most people like to call “manhood” There was a sense of satisfaction and success as I rode back with my fellow delegates, as I no longer saw boys but men that were ready to take on life’s challenges and endure them as true leaders would! I had the honor and privilege to have met both senators from Washington State that would represent us at Boys Nation -where Former President Clinton met John F. Kennedy- I rode the same bus as them and I actually sat right next to one. The values of trust, integrity, and honor were exemplified as we practiced, debated, and expressed our ideas in a manner that dignified others and created an atmosphere of maturity and respect… Mickey Mantle expresses that as life goes on by, individuals endure and achieve, attempt and fail, and they all have one thing in common: they all acquired knowledge that has value beyond belief and learned life lessons as valuable as Picasso’s paintings that forever steer individuals into the pathway of success in their goals of adulthood.
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