Sophomore Taron Masi attends the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards


Taron Masi, Writer

Over Mother’s Day weekend, I had one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. A three day camp in Canada that made me realize things about myself that I never knew before. I was one of 30 students in Genesee County asked to participate in the Rotary’s Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders. It took place at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

When we arrived at the campus, we were greeted by 30 more students of the same age, all from different areas of Canada. At first, it was quite intimidating for me to be surrounded by students I had never met before, but right from the beginning, I could tell that I would not feel timid for much longer.

Throughout the weekend we were given the opportunity to listen to three influential speakers, each with a different message. Sunjay Nath, who is a well-known motivational speaker focusing on human performance, opened for us on Friday night. He spoke of tapping into our own geniuses. If we start to act on the things that we want for ourselves and not things that others want for us we are more likely to get the results we strive for.

Later on Saturday, Alyssa Light, motivational speaker, shared her insight. Her message was to collect experiences, not stuff, because it’s the experiences in life that led to personal achievement. Lastly was Andy Thibodeau, who is part of Impact Presentations, highlighted the power we all have to impact others. He left us with this to think of, “If I don’t care, no one else will.”

Each speaker left me with a stronger feeling of individual leadership. They made me realize the power I hold. Never before had I been so comfortable to share my thoughts with complete strangers. The openness for different opinions that the students and leaders shared was truly inspiring. Their passion for helping and their energetic leadership was something that I have continued to strive to illustrate within my community.

At the start of the weekend, I was given every tool needed to make that weekend meaningful. I was handed the opportunity to make moments that I could remember for a lifetime. The choice to participate and enjoy the supportive energy laid in my hands. In the end, it was going to be my attitude that would make or break the weekend. It’s a choice we all have. Any involvement can be the greatest experience of our lives, we just have to let it.