“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work” — Colin Powell

 This is one of the biggest quotes that inspired me from  my  idol, Colin Powell. I just recently listened to him speak many influential words this past week while I attended the program Envision, for their 2017 Presidential Inauguration Leadership Summit. I am here to tell you my experience from the past couple of days.

First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Annika Vesuna, I am 11 years old and am in 6th grade. I live with my mom, dad, sister and puppy.

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My journey began last year when I attended Tamaques Elementary School and was in 5th grade. None of what had happened would have been possible if I hadn’t been placed in Mrs. Truselo’s 5th grade class. She was a phenomenal teacher and pushed me to my limits. She saw that I had a passion for learning and wanted me to be recognized for individuality. As a result, she nominated me to attend the Junior National Young Leaders Conference by the program Envision, in which was taking place in Washington, D.C over the summer. After some consideration, I decided to take on the opportunity and seize the day.

Once I had completed the program I had received another invitation to go and watch the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. I had also earned a scholarship to watch the inauguration and the peaceful transition of power. At this point I was ecstatic and admired the fact that others saw a light shining bright inside me and wanted to light it even brighter. I immediately replied yes and on Jan. 18, 2017,  I was on the road to Washington, D.C. to watch history being made.

During the inauguration I saw protestors and gained much more of an experience in person than watching off of a television screen. During the course of the program, I was placed into one of the many delegation groups. Mine was known for helping cure the future and the world of tomorrow.

While we were at the conferences we were given a task. The assignment was to come up with a solution to a problem that fit our assigned category, create a two- to four-minute pitch and write a paper arguing our point. We had to present our solution to a small crowd and if we moved forward we would go to the finals.

Our group did get the most votes and in the finals we then presented in front of the whole middle school program at EagleBank Arena.

Unfortunately, my team didn’t win and couldn’t receive the prize of our paper being presented to Congress and the President, as well as earning a scholarship to next year’s alumni program. Although we didn’t come in first place we came in as runner up and we were all proud of our achievement.

While the days went by I saw many extraordinary people and heard many extraordinary stories. I personally observed Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzia, Carly Fiorina, Martin O’Mally, Gen. Colin Powell, Spike Lee and Abby Wambach. All of these people are magnificent and set a great example for the next generation of students and future leaders. All of them had many stories to tell and lessons to share.

The one person who really stood out to me out of everyone was Gen. Colin Powell. In my opinion,n he is a great man, with great ideas and a wonderful mindset. He believes that even if you may not be the most educated and you don’t have a very high paying job, you must strive to be the best you can be. If you are a bus driver; be the best bus driver you can be.

Also, he believes that in order to make peace with other countries you must stay in your boundaries. Colin Powell strongly proposes that people should wait a little bit before starting a battle and getting themselves all caught up in the attention with no benefit. In addition, Gen. Powell tried to convey the message that if we all keep worrying about our future we would miss out on tomorrow. Instead, he said worry about tomorrow and  let tomorrow determine your future.

As any human, Gen. Powell has his own opinion on politics, yet he keeps them to himself and stays peaceful which many people in this day and age lack. Personally, I admire him for all of these reasons and I am flattered that I was granted the honor to see him through my own eyes and hear him speak.

I am also charmed that I earned the opportunity to watch history in the making. I will never let such a remarkable moment slip out of my memory for as long as I live. All opinions aside, even though I was crossing my fingers to be in the crowds as the first woman was becoming the next person to sit in the oval office, to me it doesn't matter because it is not about the destination, it is about the journey that gets you there. In other words, it doesn’t matter who was elected president, the only real importance is that I had the opportunity to receive the irreplaceable experience and be a part of the event.

I would like to thank my family who has always supported  me and, most importantly, Mrs. Truselo. Without her, none of this would be possible. Finally, I would like to close with another quote by Gen. Colin Powell: “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”

Annika Vesuna is a student at Edison Intermediate School.