Monday, July 8, 2013

Reflections of a High School Youth Ambassador - Introductory Post

In Reach is so pleased to present the first of many posts capturing the thoughts of one of our most beloved students and summer intern, Djellza Ramadani (affectionately known as DJ), whom we have watched grow into a wonderful young lady since seventh grade. It is our hope that, if you work with students, you will continue to be inspired by her posts and, if you don't, that you will be encouraged to become a mentor, collaborate with a local program to participate as a speaker, for example, or make a financial contribution to one of the many committed community-based organizations like In Reach that work with students every day to prepare them for college, work and life. Enjoy!
Excited that it's almost over yet sad to see it ending. This is the emotional roller-coaster that many high school seniors will go through as their high school experience comes to an end. I am Djellza Ramadani: a proud Youth Ambassador and, you guessed it, a newly promoted senior in high school. I remember first claiming and rooting for my graduating class, "the class of 2014," back during my freshman year. At the time, my graduating year was no more than a number to me, and, like many of my classmates, I did not expect time to ever pass by as quickly as it has. Now, I realize that the year 2014 is right around the corner, and I've got to be ready for it.

Thankfully, my experience as a High School Youth Ambassador has provided me with a college-ready mindset. I can honestly say that I am emotionally prepared to conquer my final year of high school and also successfully plan out a path toward achieving a secondary education. To get the most out of my high school classes, as well as to challenge myself, I enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Program at my school (Parkdale High). The incredible abundance of assignments and pressure to excel in them encouraged me to make my schoolwork my ultimate priority, which is fortunate since colleges take academics into great consideration when admitting students. However, this was not enough for me; I wanted to do more and experience more. Although my commitment to my academics made it difficult for me to participate in many extra curricular activities, I knew that the Youth Ambassadors program would be worth it, since it would enable me to broaden my horizons, learn things I can not learn in my school textbooks, and ultimately become a more well-rounded person.

Participating in the Youth Ambassadors program also gave me a sense of self-satisfaction since, as a Youth Ambassador, I was given the opportunity to not only help others through community service, which was very important to me, but also to get to know myself better. I was able to realize where my strengths lie as well as develop new skills in areas that interest me. Because of everything that I have accomplished as a Youth Ambassador, I can confidently claim that I want to pursue a career in public relations/journalism in the future. I would like to be the voice of one of the non-profit organizations that I was introduced to in the program, such as UNICEF, for example. I realize that the future is truly in the hands of my peers and me, and we've got to make it as great as we can.

I know that I have a long way to go before I can have my dream career. However, I can now better understand the steps I have to take to get there. Coming to this understanding was a journey of its own, and my next journey will be taking my final steps as a high school student. It would be my pleasure to share this experience with you. The world around us continues to change, but one thing remains the same: everything must be done one step at a time.