Hometown: Liberty Township, OH
High School: Lakota East High School
I often tell people that the path I’m currently on began with a place mat. When I was in early elementary school, my family had a place mat with all the United States presidents on it. For a reason I still don’t entirely remember, I decided to memorize them. Memorize them I did. But reciting the presidents in order soon ceased to be a nifty parlor trick; it was the start of a deep interest in United States history and government. I started reading a ton about presidential history. Over time, my interest shifted to United States history in general, then to United States government, law, and politics. In high school, through my participation with the Junior State of America, I cultivated my passion for civic engagement and civic education, developing leadership skills which proved invaluable to me as I applied for the Robertson. I discussed, debated, led, and listened, but most of all, I learned. I learned not only about different political issues but also to go into every discussion willing to entertain the idea that I could be dead wrong and eager to discover those beliefs I am wrong about. After all, every human being on earth is wrong about some things, and the challenge of the human experience is identifying them, since each opinion or thought in isolation seems correct. Overall, I found in my four years of high school that I have a deep, sustained interest in the machinations of our government, both on the policy-driven political side and the precedent-driven legal side.
Parallel to the development of my interest for civics was my education on issues of poverty and mental health. A public school student for 13 years, I attended the most diverse, economically challenged elementary school in my district. The district overall is a fairly well off suburban district, but that didn’t stop kids at my junior high school from calling my elementary school “the ghetto.” I saw firsthand the struggles many Americans face, and I sat beside kids whose families couldn’t afford many of the things I took for granted. The experience imbued in me a strong desire to give back to society for all I’ve been blessed with. In high school, I further developed my knowledge of and care for this issue through my roles as a volunteer coordinator at Community Meal Center in Hamilton, Ohio (a struggling rust belt city) and Youth Sector Representative on the Butler County Coalition for Safe, Healthy, and Drug-Free Communities.
The experiences of my life have not left me with a clear plan for my major, job, or dwelling. What I do know is this: in ten years, I want to be in a position where I am able to harness my passion for government, politics, and law to enact positive change through civic education, antipoverty measures, improved mental health services, or some other cause I discover in the years to come. In short, I hope to be in a position to contribute to every community I am a part of to the maximum extent possible.
What drew you to the Robertson Program?
I maintained when I was selected as I maintain now that I was not among the finalists with the most itemized qualifications for the program. I have done my best, but the accomplishments of my fellow finalists astounded me. What I think drew the Robertson Program to me is the same thing that drew me to the Robertson Program–a shared educational philosophy and a belief in the constant need to give back. During orientation at Robertson Finalist Weekend, I listened as Executive Director Allen Chan went in-depth about the mission of the program, and I was surprised when he verbalized some beliefs that I’d said almost verbatim in essays or interviews before. The Robertson Program, like me, believes that in order to learn, one must be constantly push oneself out of their comfort zone and be challenged. The Robertson Program, like me, believes in the power of diversity. The Robertson Program, like me, believes in the necessity of giving back and being a lifelong contributor to society.