The Ability to Change

Elise - Portland, Oregon
Entered on November 17, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I live in a nation of over 300 million people. I’m not old enough to vote, drive a car alone, donate my blood, or even defend my country in war. So it may seem like I can’t make a difference in the world, but there is one thing I control. I believe that you are the only person that can invoke change in your life.

In middle school I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and was getting bad grades. I couldn’t stay organized and started to give up on my school work. My grades went from bad to worse, and I would come home in tears every Friday when we’d get our weekly grade reports. I though I was going to flunk out of the sixth grade and become a bum, because it was just too hard. I had the same teacher all three years, the strictest one of them all, of course. She constantly told me that I could make it through. Even though I didn’t believe her at first, at a certain point things just clicked, and I discovered she was right. I realized that if I tried hard to get my work done, and believed in myself I could actually do very well in school. I brought up my grades. Everything changed from there on out and my work ethic has continued to climb. I believe that even if you need a little help along the way, you are the only person who can create change in your life.

My belief was made more evident to me in my sophomore year of high school during the election of 2008. People were desperate and slogans all across political America were promising change. One in particular stood out to me, “The Change We Need,” Barack Obama’s slogan. Being in the middle of a life changing election, and not being able to participate is an aggravating experience, and even more maddening when you see others not making use of the opportunity at hand. That’s why I decided that even if I couldn’t vote, I was going to help spread the word. I advocated for Obama in my social studies class, to all of my friends, and even to my neighbors with the sign I made sure was out in our front yard. I then went out canvassing for the actual campaign, making sure

registered voters voted, and encouraged them to vote for Obama.

On the evening of November fourth, 2008 it felt like the whole world tuned in for the election. Just half an hour after our polls on the west coast had closed; America’s first African- American President elect was giving his acceptance speech, to a tear filled audience. The next morning the energy throughout school was so intense you could feel it as you walked in the doors. “For the first time in many years, I am proud of my country,” a mentor of mine said, and I couldn’t have agreed more. I was so proud of not just my country, but also of myself because I knew that I made a small difference- but a difference none-the-less- in the future of my country.