“You are enough,” she said to us. I had only just met the woman, but she was the professional and seemed nice enough. Normally, when someone says that, it comes off as a cliché used in an attempt at false comfort. But this time, it felt different. She was sincere, despite not yet knowing any of us. This woman didn’t know me, yet she believed in me. She was the first person to ever do so. I knew then that my life was about to take a turn in a positive direction.
It was my first time alone in a new city surrounded by complete strangers. Naturally, I was very nervous. I was afraid of what might happen with these new people. What if they didn't like me? What if they made fun of me? Or, worse yet, what if they ignored me entirely? What if it was actually no different than being in school back at home? All of these fears were racing around in my mind, bouncing off one another as I stepped onto Fordham University's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, New York, where I would be spending the next ten days of my life.
In this new place, I desperately wanted to step out of the dark where I had spent the past years. I wanted to be more than the shy, silent girl everyone seemed to believe me to be. I wanted the me attending the National Student Leadership Conference to be a new person.
And I was. It was a vastly different atmosphere there than it was back home. The people I met and friends I made there all shared exactly the same passions and enthusiasms as me; we truly understood one another. And although we barely knew each other, we still wholly and deeply believed in each other’s strengths. We encouraged one another to step out of our comfort zones and become more confident in our own skin. The love and support I received from my NSLC family helped me to emerge from the depths of the shell in which I lived for most of my life.
The National Student Leadership Conference is about much more than teaching students how to hone their leadership skills. NSLC is a life changing program. When I applied to attend NSLC's Theater session, I had no idea what I was really signing myself up for. I thought that I would spend ten days in New York learning a lot about theater and see some shows, maybe make a few more friends. But it was so, so much more than that.
NSLC was the most amazing experience of my life. I met so many beautiful people, and I learned so much, not only about leadership and theater but also about myself and life in general. While I did learn a lot from the program itself, I learned the most from the people. They gave me strength, courage, confidence and even more passion. They taught me how to believe in myself. They filled me with love and support, and I couldn't have done anything that I've done if I hadn't met them.
Spending my summer at NSLC was an incredible adventure, and every year around the same time, I embark on a new adventure. For the last three years, near the anniversary of my NSLC session, I have taken big steps in my life.
One year after NSLC, I landed my first lead role in a play at a community theater in my hometown. I know that if I had not spent the time I had with those people, I never would have been able to work up the courage I needed to go in to audition for that play.
Two years after NSLC, to the very day, I made my way back up to New York to start orientation for my first semester at my dream school.
Now it has been three years since I walked onto that campus at Fordham, where I would start an amazing journey, and I am just beginning my very last semester of school. I am almost done. I can hardly believe it, but I am.
The people that I met at NSLC are some of the craziest, strangest, most wonderful, spectacular, talented, loving, caring, passionate, supportive and understanding people I have ever met. And every single one of them has such a kind heart and beautiful soul. I have my NSLC family to thank for everything. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for them. I am eternally grateful for everything they have done for me.