In the Greek language, “Vanessa” translates to the word “butterfly.” In many ways, the word “butterfly” could be considered a perfect metaphor for my life. The transformation from a caterpillar to a butterfly is long and challenging, similar to the transformation of my life. Once the butterfly peels its way out of the cocoon though, a beautiful creature appears. This metaphor describes how I have blossomed into the person I am today.
As a younger girl, I faced the obstacle of being shy and insecure. I was the girl who would hide in the background and do whatever she could to make sure the attention was on someone else. I would always compare myself to the people around me, and constantly worry about not being good enough. Then one day I realized that being in a mindset like that was not going to allow me to accomplish my wildest dreams. Once high school came along, I took that thought to the extreme and started facing some of my biggest fears.
Facing my biggest fear of public speaking was where my long journey began. Competing in the Miss America Organization provided me an avenue to public speak on a frequent basis. Being a part of the Miss America Organization forced me to push myself outside of my comfort zone and do things I never thought were possible. Every year I competed in the organization, I gained more confidence in myself and started to become an individual I never thought I could be. After four years of competing for the title of Miss Michigan’s Outstanding Teen, I finally won after learning so much about myself. That was one of the biggest triumphs in my life because it taught me that hard work and determination can lead you to accomplish anything your heart desires.
The skills I learned in the Miss America Organization began to translate to other aspects of my life as well. When I entered my freshman year of high school, I made making a speech at graduation as senior class president one of my goals for my high school career. With pride, I can say that goal was successfully accomplished. While in high school, I also had the privilege of being a student representative on the school board, the junior drum major of the marching band, a member of Junior Leadership Macomb and National Honor Society, and a Girl Scout. On top of all of my leadership involvement, I was also a dancer at a local studio in St. Clair Shores.
When it came time for high school graduation, I spent a lot of hours researching scholarships I felt represented me as an individual. I was involved with so much in school, and I wanted to find a scholarship that would recognize my hard work. One day I decided to browse Central Michigan University’s website, and I came across something titled the Leadership Advancement Scholarship. This was exactly what I was looking for. It was a scholarship that gave me a chance to showcase all that I worked hard for, and it gave me a chance to showcase my leadership ability through a competition day with team building activities and an interview. When I received the call that I had received the scholarship, I was ecstatic. Never would I have thought a girl like me could have ever accomplished something quite like this.
None of my accomplishments would have been possible if it were not for my determination and drive to do well in whatever I set my mind to. A saying I live my life by is, “you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.” I believe once a person is willing to put in the hard work, any dream or aspiration is attainable.