Challenge by choice

Early Wednesday morning, my contribution to the MGS 2013 preparation began. The past few days I have worked with all of the staff and some faculty members to ensure that everything and everyone is ready for the scholars to arrive tomorrow.

We’ve hung our signs. We’ve put together binders and name tags for over 120 scholars. We’ve sorted all our supplies for the next week and have done all we can to have what we need to start the session.


However, preparation isn’t just about the physical necessities.

I have also attended Residential Assistant (RA) training, Leadership Facilitator training, and a Ropes Course challenge.  These sessions have certain steps and guidelines, but is that really all we need to guide these scholars over the next three weeks? Not quite. Each of us have contributed to these sessions asking questions and sharing our knowledge and previous experiences. I always find this particularly helpful because I am able to really look at this experience from different perspectives and guide myself and my scholars better than before.

Staff at the ropes course

Staff at the ropes course

To start from the beginning, I attended Mississippi Governor’s School as a scholar in 2010. This was the 30th MGS session and I would like to think we were the best 😉

But, of course, anyone who has been a scholar will say that their year was the best.

I’ve had the pleasure to come back every summer since 2010 and learn more about MGS by taking different roles. In 2011, I was an RA in Training. I became really close to the other RAT’s and really established a team with these staff members. We worked very hard and even brought new things to the program. I would like to say that we exceeded our goals in several ways, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of MGS for a second year.

In 2012, I returned as an RA! I was stoked to have more authority (to be honest) and tried my best to become close to the girls on my hallway. I also really enjoyed guiding the new staff members but also learning from the “older” staff and faculty, like always. One thing I was told in the beginning that would happen is that I would get stressed and reach the edge at some point. This did happen to me. I did reach a breaking point from challenges that I was facing and I had to step back. After regaining myself and coming back to the moment, I continued to guide these scholars and help them face their challenges of sorts.

This year I am an RA again and also a Leadership Facilitator. I was nervous about having this position a couple weeks ago, but after my NEW Leadership experience I know I can conquer this. I am excited to see how I can challenge these scholars like I was challenged in previous years and watch them grow as leaders. Our director chose to challenge us at the ropes course yesterday, and I’m grateful that he did. I know I can lead,… but can I listen? include others? make others feel comfortable? collaborate? We have all done this course before and didn’t think much of the physical challenges. There were so many others things that were brought to our attention about monitoring the situation of the team and supporting them. I cannot wait to meet my leadership team tomorrow and watch them grow together over the next three weeks.

Each year, the scholars are different. No two years have the same type of people or the same inside jokes. No two years have the same bond.

Each year I’ve had guidance from others. For the past three years, I’ve watched and followed several of the same staff and faculty members. This year, I’m starting to feel like I’m an older staff member and now others will be following me (not just the scholars). It’s a little scary to think how quickly time flies and how it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

For the most part, all of these scholars face different challenges. It’s my job to provide direction for the scholars and help them process what is going on, how they are successful, and how they can improve. Our director emphasizes that challenges are a choice. Any person that is a part of this program can choose whether or not to challenge themselves. How we face our challenges and how we challenge others shows a lot about ourselves as leaders. I can’t wait to push this concept further this year.

This place. These people. This experience…will forever hold a place in my heart. I have grown up with this program, and the people here have impacted me and helped me become the person I am today. Without them, I have no idea what I would be like now, and quite frankly, I don’t even want to think about it. I made relationships with so many people like me across the state, and I am still best friends with some of these people I met three years ago.

MGS Class of 2010

MGS Class of 2010

This program is not a camp. It is an experience that does things for scholars that are unimaginable and immeasurable. You don’t come here to take a college class and make a few cool summer friends; you come here to let this place challenge you, and you come here to find a family and best friends for a lifetime.

Song (shout out to MGS 2010):


3 thoughts on “Challenge by choice

  1. I can’t imagine the person I would be today if it were not for the summer I spent in Columbus in 2009. It changed my life drastically…and for the better. MGS is lucky to have you, sweetheart. Have a great time and keep your head up!

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