(Editor's Note: William Taylor '21 of Beech Grove, Tenn., recounts his participation in a National Youth Leadership Forum during the summer.)
This summer I had the privilege of attending a "National Youth Leadership Forum" (referred to as "NYLF") event at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga. These week-long events focus on various real-world professions and are aimed at giving participants, referred to as "Scholars", a better idea of what it might be like to be an astronaut, a scientist, a doctor or numerous other specialties. The one I attended focused primarily on "STEM" which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. During the week, I designed and built a prototype shelter for future astronauts who might live on Mars. We were all able to share various leadership roles within the team and develop critical-thinking skills to think through problems that might occur. My group won second place in the national competition. Additionally, my team built and programmed a robot, designed a computer application that created a checklist of daily project goals, and we got to perform surgeries on each other. OK, I'm just kidding about that last one, but we did learn a lot about medical practice in space and how emergency medical procedures are performed in a weightless environment.
During the week, we also had an opportunity to meet and listen to various distinguished guest speakers from various professions. My favorite speaker was Dr. Jerry Linenger. Dr. Linenger is a former NASA astronaut and flight surgeon. Among his mile-long list of accomplishments, he orbited earth 177 times and logged more than 50 million miles in space. He survived the most severe fire on a space shuttle, overcame numerous life-or-death obstacles, and he was the first American to undock from different space shuttles two times. He spent nearly five months aboard the MIR space station. He was very inspiring, and I wouldn't be surprised if his life were made into a movie.
The program also included numerous and very fun learning activities that helped bring what I learned in class all year into better focus. I met many other like-minded students, made lots of new friends during the week, and I learned so much. I'd like to say "Thank you!" to Mrs. Sullens for nominating me and encouraging me. The Envision NYLF program was legitimate and I had a blast!