eNews Guest Editor – Jatericka Connelly

An important accomplishment that marked my transition from childhood to adulthood was being selected to be a part of YLT Class 9 (2012-13) because it taught me how to be a leader, showed me how to be more confident, and taught me how to think outside of the box when it came to trying to solve issues.

I took a chance applying to the YLT program even though I knew that a lot of people were applying for it. I was nervous, but I knew that I needed to take the opportunity and try and that even if I did not make it, it would be a learning experience for me – I could get more interview and application practice and I could put myself out there and learn not to hold myself back from opportunities.

During my YLT interview, I did not try to make up leadership experiences or try to give the interview team the answers that I felt would please them, but I wanted to show them the real me and that I had potential and just needed a chance to use that potential. Out of the 137 applicants, 34 students were selected. I had the pleasure of being one of the 34.

As soon as we began YLT, we experienced challenges that were meant to make us more open minded, less fearful, and better able to think critically in different situations. During the opening retreat, we had to room with somebody that we did not know and we had to work in groups and collaborate with people we did not know. Through creative and engaging activities we learned cooperation, patience, and critical thinking. We were taught that we placed unnecessary limits on ourselves that did not exist until we created them and that it is okay to think outside the box and push boundaries. This was an important lesson that helped me to transform and grow as a person.  I realized that I was the only thing holding me back and that life’s possibilities are truly endless. We were taught how to trust and support each other and how to create new communities and relationships, all important lessons to better our future.

Throughout the YLT experience, we experienced different areas of our community, from the creative, human services, environmental, public safety, business and government aspects.  This overview of Tallahassee taught us how we, even as juniors in high school, could make huge differences in our communities and in the world as a whole. I learned that my voice mattered and I was taught to help others to become leaders. YLT really helped me to grow and mature as a student, leader, and person. I learned to look at the world through new eyes and to take on new challenges with an open-minded, positive, and fresh mindset.

Jatericka Connelly (YLT 9)

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