Never does one think that three years later one organization will still have such a huge impact on their life. But here I am three years later continuously feeling grateful for the opportunity to be a part of CYL. I was a passionate ball of energy junior year when I learned about Colorado Young Leaders. Nicole had come into one of our Be the Change meetings and educated us about a fantastic way for us to get more involved in the community, meet other passionate youth, and develop our leadership skills. The idea of meeting other people with the same drive was thrilling. That first meeting everyone was like a family, catching up, making plans, and having a blast. Right away I knew I was where I was meant to be.
Throughout my time in CYL I was able to work with a variety of nonprofits, meet a lot of incredible individuals, and create positive change in our community. It was exciting to have a group that supported my passions, helped me continue to grow and reach for the stars, and provide me a positive environment to develop and work. Now I am still involved in a few of the nonprofits, I know how to organize and empower people, and most importantly, I am positive and optimistic about what I can do with my life.
One summer, CYL took a group of students down to Peru to volunteer. I fell in love with the area and promised myself I would find a way to make it back to South America. 3 years later, I am in Ecuador studying for four months, working with locals, and making my past dream come true. CYL showed me my love for travel and my love for helping others. I know have a toolbox that I use on a daily basis when making decisions and initiating change.
Recently, a few of my friends and I began to develop a sexual assault campaign for high school students as it is not well educated at a young age. I was able to use my past knowledge about leadership and initiation to; make a timeline, break down the major deadlines and points we needed to hit, figure out funding, reach out to “power” figures, organize a group of high school youth to work with us on these endeavors, and successfully organize a sexual assault campaign in April for a school. Without my time in CYL, I would not have had the confidence, the tools, or the experience to initiative such a large campaign.
CYL also showed me my love for assisting others and organizing. Since I started college I have been working with different environmental non-profits to push for different citywide, statewide and school-wide initiatives such as a transition to renewable energy. I have spent the last two and a half years working on different renewable energy campaigns, I started small working with a club at my University than realized how passionate I was about renewable energy and reached out to a non-profit and began working my freshman year on renewable energy initiatives. Sophomore year I got in contact with another nonprofit and was recruited as a full-time fellow. Throughout my past year with this organization I have been able to use my variety of skills to contribute to the campaign; from phone banking for donations like we did for events at CYL such as the auction, to recruiting attendance at events like we did at our CYL big events such as the marathon or pumpkin carving events, CYL continues to impact my life on a daily level.
CYL taught me what it means to be a leader. I learned what it meant to live in a capitalist society but working with people instead of against people. I learned what it meant to make a positive impact on my community at a young age which has sparked a love for helping others. CYL taught me to reach for the stars, then the moon, then the galaxy because there is no such thing as reaching too high. This organization has ignited a flame in me, as well as so many other youths that have been involved and we have all become passionate community leaders and have spread our wealth of knowledge we got from CYL to others to continue to spread the flame of passion. The best quote to explain CYL starts with a quote from Alice in the Looking Glass, “I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast.” but CYL teaches us that these 6 impossible things are possible if we set our minds to making the change. CYL changes the quote to “I’ve believed as many as 6 impossible things before breakfast and made them possible by dinner”, and that has made all the difference in my life.
Author: Maddy Gawler