Ever since I began attending school when I was little, I generally enjoyed learning. I payed attention, worked diligently, and studied appropriately. I appreciate and value my education to the utmost level, don’t get me wrong, but something was missing. It seemed like my teachers and the other students alike were just going through the cycle of course material, apathetically learning and forgetting. I wanted more; I wanted engagement into the subject matter and in-depth discussion about the topic. It felt like I was floating through my education and just skimming the surface. It didn’t feel right. Something was missing.
Then, my sophomore year of high school, I applied to the Kentucky Governor’s School for Entrepreneurs (GSE). The year before, I had a friend that attended, and she absolutely loved it, so I knew it was something I wanted to look into. I knew it was a three week immersive summer program into the business world with the opportunity of starting your own business, but other then that, I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. A few months after I applied, I was notified that I had been accepted, and I’m sure glad I was.
I began the program with 42 other high school students from across Kentucky not really sure if I was going to love it; but little did I know, it would fulfill what I felt had been missing in my education.
The entire program is based around small teams of (on average) four students who basically build a business in three weeks by discussing every possible aspect of that business. At the end of the program, all the teams pitch these viable businesses to a panel of local entrepreneurs. With the perfect combination of lectures, lessons, guest speakers, field trips, and group time, we learned the basics of the business model canvas and what it takes to start a business. The best part of it (to me, at least), was the adult leaders actually believed in our capabilities. This was no cyclical, “let’s get this over with” lesson; this was a group of adults who believed in teenagers’ abilities to change and transform the world around us. That’s what had been missing. I was waiting for someone to believe in me, to push me further, to give me the green light on what I want to accomplish.
This amazing program provided me with life-long friends and inspired me to pursue a career involving business, but most importantly, it pushed me to believe in myself. Having adults believe in me and my work showed me that I can actually make a difference. Having adults believe in me changed my life. We have so many apathetic teens because no one believes in them. We need more programs like GSE to instill a sense of passion and pride into our youth across the nation. I was able to find the missing piece in my education through GSE, and I want other teenagers to have a similar experience.
Let’s ditch the careless lessons and lectures and instead begin to replace them thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations, activities, and programs. It’s time for more adults to start showing teens that we matter and what we have to say is important. After all, we are the future.