By HANNAH LANG
Entering college, everyone experiences a bit of anxiety about the future. I had my own worries about how my blended family would pay for school, how college would be different from high school and how I would decide on a major.
I felt like my entire life was being planned out. While many of my friends seemed so certain of their future, college only seemed stressful and intimidating to me.
I had good grades and some dual credit, but I had no idea where to go.
After applying to a few schools, I heard about Presidential Scholars at Amarillo College from a high school counselor.
The program offered scholarships, travel and opportunities for campus involvement. Most important, it offered involvement in a group of students like me.
After being accepted into the program, I realized just how different my college experience would be. The first day of class, we already were planning on-campus activities, signing up for community events and training to be campus ambassadors.
High school was enjoyable, but I had never been given an opportunity to lead. The same students always were elected into the same positions.
Being an introvert, I was perfectly fine staying in the background.
As intimidating as it was, I wasn’t allowed to blend into the background in Presidential Scholars.
My first experience with leadership was taking the Scholars speech class.
Unlike my middle school speech class, this course was preparing me to speak at numerous Scholars events.
Throughout the year, I would be speaking continuously at high school assemblies and college activities. I even would be speaking to community leaders. We also were required to speak during a live radio segment.
As I continued taking Scholars classes, I found myself coming out of the shell I had built in high school.
Every event that required us to speak, to create, to lead, gave us a voice on campus and in the community. We were given a responsibility to make a change.
Part of making that change was visiting Cambodia last summer. Originally intended to teach us about water conservation, the trip became much more than that.
All year, we had raised funds to build water wells for Cambodians who did not have access to clean water.
While learning about the country interested me, the experience came to life when we stepped off the plane.
After spending a day assembling and sealing water filters at Resource International Development Cambodia, I couldn’t help but feel that I had been accepted into the program for a greater purpose.
After returning home last summer, I realized the entire purpose of the Presidential Scholars program.
All year, we had worked on speaking, planning and critical thinking to develop our skills for something much greater: leadership.
Through Presidential Scholars, I realized the true meaning of being a leader.
Leadership isn’t about yelling orders or demanding the spotlight. It’s about using your position for the good of others – using your voice for those who don’t have one.
I am extremely blessed and grateful to call myself a Presidential Scholar, not because of what it has done for me, but what it has inspired me to do.
My college experience has been nothing like I had anticipated.
It has been a million times better.