Originally published in Northern Wyoming Daily News – January 29, 2018
I met a remarkable young lady Thursday that gave me hope for our future leaders. Much more hope than I had when I read about young people eating detergent pods. At that time I had hope only in survival of the fittest.
Grace Belize Anderson is the National Family, Career and Community Leaders of America president. She lives just outside of Devil’s Tower in Crook County. She attends Wyoming Virtual Academy and will graduate this May. She already has her plans for the future as she looks toward a career in politics.
Grace understands, at the young age of 17, what it means to be a leader. That a leader is not defined by what someone else thinks or says about you; a leader is not defined by what title you may or may not have; a leader can lead by example by helping just one person or performing one act of kindness; a leader listens with an open mind and listens with respect to other ideas.
Her service as president of FCCLA has taught her many things about being a leader, she said in her interview with me Thursday. It’s been different than she envisioned. The National FCCLA office is run much like a business, she said, and as president she has spent time answering emails and attending committee meetings, where she thought she might be more in the thick of planning events and projects.
The leadership position, she said, has helped her prepare more for the real world.
She understands more about being a leader than most, if not all of our so-called leaders in Washington, D.C.
Grace has political plans, starting at the local legislative level and then higher state offices including secretary of state and governor. She said if she’s going to dream, she’s going to dream big, and figures she can also set sights on the presidency.
And, why not. Would she be the first woman president? It is hard to say.
But for Grace she wants first to be known as a great leader, not just a great woman or great female leader. She wants people to start looking past gender and race and seeing people for who they are and what they do, not the way they were born.
That’s encouraging to hear, not just from a 17-year-old, but from anyone in today’s society.
Grace made decisions several years ago to be the person she wanted to be. She chose not to listen to naysayers and she encouraged Worland students to do the same, to believe in their dreams and what they want to do and not to listen when people tell them they can’t
One of the other lessons she imparted upon the WHS students was to surround yourself with a support system, whether it’s friends, parents, teachers, coaches or even your hair dresser, surround yourself with people who will encourage you, support you and let you dream and dream big.
My parents always told me and my siblings that we could be anything we wanted. Sure they had their own ideas but they let us choose our paths and supported us as we went along those paths. That was my support system, my family, as well as my friends, a few teachers, and a couple of editors, along the way who encouraged me and challenged me.
Grace has found her way and her support system and I wish her luck and hope to interview her in future years on the campaign trail.
To learn more about Wyoming Virtual Academy visit http://wyva.k12.com/.