When I decided to apply for this fellowship, my first thought was that it would be a great experience and it would be a valuable way to spend my summer between my junior and senior year, but as I came to learn more about the fellowship and its origins, I became more and more interested in the actual purpose of the fellowship – public service. As I began my essay for the application and I tried to explain the meaning of John William Ward’s quote, “one must act as if one can make a difference,” I thought about what it meant to me to be able to make a difference.
In my life, I have relied so much on others to help me through tough times and to support me when I needed it. I never would have made it to the point that I am at now, in the summer before senior year, at Boston Latin School, with great grades, and with a great summer job without the help and guidance of so many people in my life. For that, I am endlessly thankful. These people – my friends, my family, my teachers, and my mentors – have made a difference in my life. No matter what happens in the future, they have left a mark on this world through their effect on me.
I have always wanted, ever since I was very young, to make a mark on the world. I’ve always been very morbidly aware of human mortality. I thought, after I am dead, what will people remember about me? What will I leave behind? I’ve always believed that the best way to leave something behind is to positively affect the people around you. If you help even one person in your life, that is a good deed that can stay around once you yourself are gone. Nothing else, not money, power, or material possessions, will matter.
So, I want to use my life to help people. The next question would be how to get that accomplished. The very simple answer in this case would be public service. The Ward Fellows have met with so many people, including the Inspector General, Washington Post editor Hilary Krieger, and Representative Kennedy. Whenever we ask each person why they got interested in public service, they always had the same answer: they wanted to help others and make a difference in their community. Hilary Krieger used a phrasing that I really liked. She said that she wants to give a voice to those who have none.
For most of my life, I sat on the sidelines of almost everything, letting other people who were bigger, bolder, and more ‘popular’ make the major choices and take action. If I disagreed, maybe I would mention it, but I would never do so very emphatically, because I simply never felt like I mattered. Since coming to Boston Latin School and joining the Ward Fellowship and being surrounded by intelligent and motivated people, I have come to learn that I do indeed matter. Elizabeth Warren told us that she does not fear being a freshman senator because she knows that she knows what she is talking about, so she knows that other people should listen to her. Thanks to this fellowship, I am starting to feel the same way.
No matter what I do for a career for the rest of my life, I know I want to change things about the society that we are living in now. I want to improve the standing of women in society, because we are half the population of the world, so we should stand on equal footing to men. I want to improve the state of the public education system because the only way that we can ensure a good future for society is to properly educate our children. There are so many things that I want to do and I’ve never felt like I could actually do them. I’m tired of getting brushed off as an overreacting teenage girl. I’m tired of being stuck behind a screen and a keyboard and thinking that I’m unable to act. I want to act. That is why I’m interested in public service.