Pranjali Shah

August 30, 2010

The summer of 2008 is probably the moment when I found the seed of my independence. I heard about this opportunity of the Young Women’s Political Leadership Retreat and for the first time, I wanted to take action and apply for myself, not my mom or for a college application. When I was accepted to the program, I flew to Washington, D.C. by myself for the first time in my life. I had no idea what to expect when I landed. However, after four amazing days attending seminars, meeting phenomenal girls, and listening to successful speakers, I knew that this program had honestly changed my life. I have learned the importance of having a passion and doing anything you can possibly do to pursue it. I remember at the retreat, I was listening to other girls and speakers about what they were passionate about and what they wanted to change in the world. I felt lost, not knowing what my interest was, what I had my heart set for. But two years later, I have realized what I am focused on: domestic violence. I want to start helping out women and men in need. I believe this form of “love” needs to decrease in relationships and the victims need someone to reach out to them. If it wasn’t for this retreat, I don’t believe I would have even tried to find out what I am now dedicated towards. Not only did I learn the steps in finding my passion, I also met fantastic young women around the nation. I still keep in touch with these girls, and I learned so much from them, what their lives are like and what they plan on doing to make an impact in our world. I am so excited about their future! This retreat was a helping hand in my life. I was at first discouraged when I didn’t see an immediate effect, of finding that organization or being a leader in the community. I’ve started my freshman year in college last fall, and I’m an active member of the “Impact Leadership Village” at North Carolina State University. I’m one of the few selected students to live in this first year program. I have found opportunities to do community service and attend dinner series to listen to real world leaders today. I believe any young girl who is looking for that extra push in bringing out her potential, needs to apply to this wonderful opportunity. I am so grateful for being a part of this retreat and I will never forget who I met or what I’ve learned. Thank you, Running Start for giving me the running start to the rest of my life.

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