David Gaydos is a senior at Hilliard Bradley High School, and attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards held at Ohio University this past summer for his senior capstone. Participants in this conference were handpicked by high school administrators based on their character, service, and leadership potential and were then sponsored by their local Rotary clubs while attending the camp for free. Here, students were expected to engage in group activities and discussions regarding moral values, social issues, leadership qualities, and service, listen to notable speakers, and interact with peers through social activities and dorm living. “As an introvert, this sounded like the last thing that I would want to be doing,” David explains. But after considering how great of an opportunity RYLA was, and how great of an honor it was to be chosen to attend, he decided to take the risk and step out of his comfort zone.
After utilizing this valuable and inspirational opportunity and participating in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, David has experienced changes in his daily life and in himself. “The biggest effect is my greater feeling of ease when speaking in front of others and when suggesting my ideas to a group,” he states. David also adds, “I tend to take a leadership role in almost every group project, whereas before I might just step aside because I didn’t feel confident enough.” Because of making so many new friends at RYLA, he now feels assured that meeting new people in college will be a smooth experience. The Rotary Youth Leadership Awards gave David the confidence to take on new life roles. Without this senior capstone experience, David may have never been able to make the transition from complacent spectator to an ambitious leader ready for the future.