One in an occasional series, we ask an achiever to detail some of the process:
The achiever: Molly Walker of Concord, 17, a rising senior at Robinson High.
The achievement: Being chosen as one of two Senators from North Carolina to attend Girls Nation, a weeklong immersion in government arranged yearly by the American Legion Auxiliary in which young women travel to Washington, D.C., meet with congressional representatives (this year, they met President Barack Obama), participate in mock campaigns and elections, and hold debates.
The germ of the idea: I have grown up watching the news every day instead of the typical shows kids and teenagers watch, which has definitely sparked my political interests.
The coolest thing about the work involved: I most enjoyed working to put on the Wounded Warriors Picnic at Walter Reed Army Hospital. I felt so proud to live in a country where men and women are willing to put their lives on the line to preserve my freedom, even if Ive never met them and am just a teenage girl who has barely begun her life. I was astonished to see the lack of bitterness in the wounded veterans faces, and was inspired by their fire and spirit. We were also blessed with the opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor (who) prompted us young women to take the reins of society and change the injustices that plague us, no matter your age or gender.
The biggest challenge it presented: You work long, exhausting days and have little time for sleep. It is a truly grueling experience and made me realize the hectic nature of our congressmen and congresswomens schedules.
The way that challenge was overcome: Girls Nation stresses the purpose of why you are there, and that purpose is to honor those who have served and to honor the history and character of our great nation. Such strong sentiment and feelings are contagious and really stimulate you to wipe the sleep out of your eyes.
The two most helpful resources involved: My Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher, retired Col. Russ Olson, was a big inspiration and resource for me as I pursued this opportunity. Being a Vietnam war veteran himself, his service inspires me to serve my country in whatever way I can. His passion for our government and our troops is evident in every lesson and every lecture.
The most personally satisfying element: When we raised the flag every morning at 6:45 a.m., I felt a sense of internal pride and hope that I can honestly say Id never felt before. I am forever indebted (for the chance) to experience the beauty of everything that this nation is and will continue to be, despite what political pundits forecast or what economists predict.