January 2023 eNews Guest Editor, Narain Gopalachar (YLT 19)

It was an honor and pleasant surprise for me to be asked by my Youth Leadership Tallahassee Program Director Ms. Lili Hoffman and Chair Ms. Stephanie Shumate to be the eNews guest editor and share my experience in this wonderful (ongoing) journey on behalf of the amazing Class 19.

I first heard of Youth Leadership Tallahassee through a school email, with the announcement that the application was open, and it piqued my interest almost immediately. So, that very evening, I filled out the application and hoped I would be selected for an interview. I was excited to receive the email that I was selected and went in for my interview, anxious to know how it would go. Thankfully, it went well, and I couldn’t have smiled more when I checked the mail a little while later to see a large envelope from YLT, opening it to find I had been accepted.

It started with the opening retreat around mid-July where we connected through many communication-based activities with our classmates from different schools and backgrounds. One of the things I observed during these activities, as I’m sure my classmates may have as well, was all the various ways one can lead. We later learned what kind of leader we are individually, and how these several types of leaders work in a distinct manner, but all reach the same goal. I found it to be remarkably interesting and has been one of the coolest things I have learned yet in this great program. It was a blast overall, but the best part was that over the course of just two days, I had made around 35 new friends, re-connected with a few already known ones, and a few I plan to get to know more as we have our monthly meetings.

We are about halfway there, but it has gone by quickly. We may meet only once a month, but each meeting is special and there is always something we can advance our knowledge in. Our first one being Business & Financial Literacy Day, where we made our own “company” and business plan for that “company” which we presented to a panel of professional, experienced judges, or “sharks.” It was difficult, and really showed us a glimpse of what it is like to start a business in the real world. I am proud to say our team won the “mini competition.”

Our next few meetings involved our city’s infrastructure, human services, and government, through which we have gained knowledge about our community, and how we can use that knowledge to help our generation be the best prepared and serve to benefit society. We even met some of our city’s leaders and heard their stories and lessons, being well-inspired to do more.

I look forward to seeing what YLT Class 19 accomplishes now and in the future, the development we will make to further improve Tallahassee, or wherever life may take us. There are many life skill improvement programs out there and amongst them, Youth Leadership Tallahassee has been an excellent platform to provide students with many life skills needed to make an impact in our community.

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