My name is Emily Russel, and I am a senior in Pleasant Plains school district. Throughout my high school career, I have become an active member in my school and community by participating in Pleasant Plains running programs, after school clubs, and finding opportunities to volunteer my services. Each of these activities have contributed to the person I am today. Sangamon CEO is another program that has changed my life for the better. I had no idea this class could change my perspective and well being to the extent it has, and yet it is one of the best decisions I could have made as a student in high school.

When I applied to Sangamon CEO, I hoped for an experience that would help make my transition to the “real world” an easier process. I figured meeting new people, expanding my knowledge of business, and improving public speaking skills would be a major asset. But deep down, I knew high school was coming to an end, and my plans for college were undecided. There are many directions in which life can take you, and I only wanted to pick the right path. If anything, I was hoping CEO would guide me to a destination/decision or at least tell me something I didn’t already know about myself, and it has.

During my time at CEO, I have learned the value of teamwork, time management, networking, listening, and failing in ways I never expected. Moving tables with colleagues and storytelling are just a few of the techniques that have opened my eyes to new ideas and perspectives on life. Plus, nothing tests a person’s time management skills like expecting them to be ready for class at 0700 every school day or having them create a business in four months time. But most importantly, I have caught on to a constant message in the class: if you don’t follow your passion, you will regret that you never tried; so go for the gold and plan for a successful life that makes you truly happy, because you only get one.

With all that I have mentioned, I can only say thank you. Thank you Sangamon CEO for providing me with resources and educating me on business. Thank you for connecting me with members of the community and explaining what a “meaningful” life really is. Thank you for an experience that has taught me to be a better version of myself.

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