October 4, 2018
Youth Leadership United has prepared more than 20 classes of young leaders to take on leadership roles in our community. As the program begins taking applications for its 24th class, we thought it was time to catch up with some past graduates.
In this mini series, we introduce you to three Youth Leadership United graduates. They share how Youth Leadership United was a game changer for them — from furthering their knowledge of the community and connecting them to local leaders, to board placements and making lifelong friends.
“It’s just great the sense of community you build through doing community service,” says Mackenzie, a senior at Perry Meridian High School. Although she’s been volunteering since she was a freshman, Mackenzie didn’t have much leadership experience before participating in Youth Leadership United. Thanks to the program, she’s now a young leader on the board of an organization she’s incredibly passionate about.
What did you learn while in Youth Leadership United?
The great thing is that each time we met, there was a different skill to learn or topic about the community to discuss. What I thought was most important was learning about how United Way addresses community needs and how can we address them as young leaders.
The program gave me a much better understanding of the struggles faced by people in Central Indiana. It was interesting to discuss issues like homelessness with students my age who are also community minded — it challenges your ideas and brings new ideas forward.
What was your favorite part?
Something really unique about Youth Leadership United is the deep connections you get to make with your peers. It’s a way to make relationships with those who are involved in the community around you. I’m still involved with many of those in my class and still talk about our community placements and the lasting effect the program has had on us.
How has Youth Leadership United set you up for future success?
Youth Leadership United teaches you how to better interact with peers and your community. But most important, it teaches you how to be a leader through all of that. I am now more comfortable with taking on bigger roles in school and my community. The program empowered me to utilize my skills and make them better, preparing me to actually take on leadership roles. I was a volunteer for Reach for Youth for their Teen Court program before Youth Leadership United, and now I have a stronger role as a board member thanks to the program.
What have you enjoyed about your placement on the Reach for Youth board?
I’ve been volunteering with Teen Court for three years now and I understand the issues they face. Being on a board has allowed me to help the community in a way that is beyond just volunteering. I get to learn more about how it works behind the scenes and how I can actually help improve the program.
I get to give input on how they can reach more students and kids in the community. They have a volunteer shortage for the Teen Court program, so I’ve given them lots of feedback on more outlets to get volunteers. What’s great about the placement is that the people you are placed with value your opinion as a youth in the community.
Would you recommend people to apply for Youth Leadership United?
I would 100% recommend that they apply for Youth Leadership United, because I think that it’s a way to get better involved in the community in a deeper, more meaningful way. The program not only puts us with our peers but shows us that these adults are really interested in helping us, and helping our community. They know how we work and how best to help us.
In the end you really feel like a new person. Your eyes are open to so many new things and it is such an enriching experience. You can’t really go wrong with it!
If you’re a young leader looking for a way to become more involved with your community, apply now to become part of the next Youth Leadership United class. You’ll connect with other young leaders, learn about the issues our community faces and develop solutions while serving on a local nonprofit board. It’s a unique opportunity that only comes one time a year — get your application in by October 31.
Know a young adult who would be interested in Youth Leadership United? Share this article with them and nominate them for the program now.