Alumni In Action
As many of you know our Eagle Days are a chance for all of our students to dive in depth of issues such as leadership, time management, empathy, conflict resolution, self-esteem, etc. One of the topics planned for our March Eagle Day was the importance of being an active community member. However, our lives began changing rapidly as COVID-19 entered into our reality. As social distancing is now a part of our every day lives, one could grapple with the question of how does a community come together in a time when we can't be physically together? We have seen some amazing scenes on social media of people coming together in various ways to support, comfort, grieve, worry, and reassure. When making the material for our March Eagle Day, we reached out to a recent Upward Bound alumni student who applied what he learned in the program and is now one of the nation's youngest elected officials to offer some advice to our students about getting involved in the community. This letter was too good not to share and I think we can all use a little positivity right now in all of this uncertainty. We are so proud of our AMAZING Upward Bound alumni! Take a look at this letter from Eli Anderson below and help us celebrate the accomplishments of one of our own!
"I began to get deeply involved in my community at the beginning of my senior year during Fall 2018. At that time, I had announced my campaign to seek election to the Morgan County Commission in August. A special election was to be held in November after a vacancy occurred. This opening allowed me to meet the age requirement of 18 by a little over a month. I still wonder how the stars must've aligned perfectly to allow me to even have a chance of serving my community as a County Commissioner.
Retrospectively, I have asked myself many times, "What in the world compelled me to do something borderline crazy?" I was a senior in high school and running for Class President while also running for the County Commission. I'm sure a lot of people thought that I had no business doing something like that, but I didn't care what others thought about me. The answer I've figured out as to why I ran a campaign was because you always hear people say how they wish younger people were more involved. So, I gave people an option. Next thing I know, I'm one of the youngest elected officials in the country.
I started getting involved when I joined Upward Bound in 2017. It was probably the single most crucial decision I made in high school. Before Upward Bound, I was still quite shy and disengaged from things going on around me. UB was the first organization I had become a member of, and it taught me a lot about getting involved. Whether it was schoolwork, Eagle Days, college, or social interactions, I began to be more active, and that allowed me to grow as a person into who I am now. I once avoided the spotlight but my first summer in UB, I ran for SGA President. Granted, I lost that election, but I still ended up President by default once every SGA member turned out to be a graduated senior and left the program after summer 2017.
Upward Bound was where I held my first office. Over the two years when I was SGA President, I rewrote the SGA Constitution and brought a more efficient system of self-government to the students. I also began taking part in more clubs at Wartburg and eventually became a two-term Class President of the class of 2019 in my junior and senior years. Then I decided to apply what I had learned about getting involved in my surroundings to help my community in whatever way I could by getting elected to the Commission. I wanted to step up to the plate and say that I am here and I am ready to serve when and where I am needed. So far, I've been fortunate to do as I hoped: to be a good person at the right place at the right time. The trick to community service is to do that; set yourself on track to be that good person at the right place at the right time. When you accomplish such a goal, then your limits will dissolve before your eyes.
I left Upward Bound last summer and have since then started at Roane State Community College, where I am now the Student President. I'm majoring in Political Science and will be transferring to the University of Tennessee or Tennessee Tech once I get my Associates Degree. I will be 21 when I am up for re-election in 2022, and I haven't decided whether or not I want to run again. I take each day at a time, trying to accomplish the little things first while keeping the big picture in mind. People have always told me I must be brilliant to have done all the things I have, but I'm no Einstein. If I was able to get involved in my community, then anybody can. There are no requirements or per-requisites to be kind to to other people. The best way to prepare yourself to get involved in your community is to stay in Upward Bound. I promise you that in five years, ten years, etc. you will look back and remember how big of an impact Upward Bound had on your life. You have the keys to the rest of your life in front of you, and they're yours to take."
- Eli Anderson
2019 Wartburg High Graduate
Today's accomplishments were yesterday's impossibilities
- Robert H. Schuller