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As the 2014 National GEAR UP Youth of the Year, many of my peers and community members wonder: Who is Vanessa Madrid and how did she get this award? For the first time in my life people wonder who I am and what I’ve done. This is my chance to share my story; to open my life to you. Some may think I live a perfect life, but I have dealt with many challenges and though my story may not sound exactly like yours, we do share one commonality. We have dealt with challenges – and more importantly – we are doing all we can to make it through.

I am Vanessa Madrid, a student, a sister, a daughter, a leader and a friend. I am a sophomore at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, SC. I enjoy music, engineering, and arts, but more than anything else, I enjoy making positive change.

On this blog, I will take you on my journey. Each blog post will symbolize a footstep on my journey to success. I will share my high school experiences and I’ll even give you some advice along the way! We all experience so many things through life and we try to hold on to the memories and cherish the many great moments. Start writing those moments down in a journal, cherish them, and let them push you through the next day. If you write down the positive things, you will begin to let go of the negative. I recently started doing this and I can honestly say that I have already began to see the positive effects.

This summer, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. and attended the National GEAR UP Youth Congress and was awarded the 2014 National GEAR UP Youth of the Year. The one word that I would use to describe my experience in D.C. would be “growth.” I’ve never been comfortable socializing in a group of unfamiliar faces. This trip challenged me to do just that, and I am proud to say… I succeeded.

Life in high school can be like a roller coaster. There will be ups, there will be downs, but it’s a ride. Let’s try to enjoy it!

Category: The College Experience