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August and September are months filled with firsts. First days of kindergarten, first days of high school, the first chill in the air, the first colorful leaf signaling the first day of fall. This past year at TCP gave me an opportunity to experience a lot of firsts. My first real office, my first solo awards ceremony, and my first time using vacation days! Throughout all of these firsts, there is one that will always mean more to me than any other.

I was given the opportunity this year to begin working closely with students participating in the program. Through interviews, video projects, and the Student of the Year Competition, I met a lot of influential and amazing students.

There is a process for the three finalists for the Student of the Year Competition where we visit their schools and spend the day getting their stories and making sure the guests at our gala know how amazing they are.

The three finalists were chosen and I happened to be the person within TCP who got to call and give, one finalist’s, Cole Nickolls, school the good news. Hearing the joy in their voices was the beginning of a feeling I still haven’t lost months later. Working with all three outstanding finalists was my favorite thing from this year. Getting their stories told meant a lot to them and to me.

When the Student of the Year was announced, you could feel the magic in the air. Before Cole was named the winner, he had given me a card that I didn’t get to read until later that night, but inside it he wrote that I helped change his life.

People often say that you cannot make a difference in everyone but if you’ve made a difference to one person, you are doing something right. The feeling you get when someone tells you that you have made a difference to them never goes away. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, TCP changes lives and getting to be one of the people who helps to make it happen is magical. This is the kind of thing that makes me excited to wake up and come into the office every day to see what we can do next.

Even with all of the firsts I’ve experienced these past few months and all the firsts to come, my favorite will always be that student who said I helped change his life. The more involved I get with students in this Program, the more times I hear “The Challenge Program changed my life.”  I have a feeling that even though this was my first student here that I had the chance to help change, it will not be the last.

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