Called to Service on the NC Youth Tour
Blue Ridge Energy Member Represents NC on Youth Leadership CouncilBy Haley Dorsey
A few months ago, I would have never considered myself to be an extrovert. I would have never agreed to be part of a program that would require so much mental and physical strength. I never took risks regarding representative roles because the tasks of working together and collaborating were largely unfamiliar to me, and I’d certainly never seen myself serving as a spokesperson for my county. And yet, here I am, having completed the NC Youth Tour and taken on a national leadership role.
I was raised on the south side of Chicago, which is a very urban place. My opportunities were limited due to the environmental and socioeconomic obstacles that surrounded my daily life. I remember having no hope for my community as I watched the people within it tear themselves apart. Poverty, narcotics and lack of support were the demons that reigned over my childhood. My family made the difficult decision to leave it all behind less than three years ago and moved to a more rural area: Caldwell County, North Carolina.
I’m still far from finished with this journey of serving those around me, but through the Youth Tour I’ve learned what it means to serve and work together.
In our new home, I was able to thrive with the resources I was given, but I was still operating under the notion that having a sense of community was dull-witted in comparison to being on your own. I thought I understood the importance of working together to get to a common goal, but to my surprise, I was wrong. I took the risk and gave my community a chance because I yearned for the feeling of belonging. I applied for the NC Youth Tour and was sponsored for the experience by my electric co-op, Blue Ridge Energy. I entered the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) speech competition, and to my surprise once again, my community decided to give me a chance.
This trip instilled a sense of independence in me the moment I stepped foot in Raleigh. Our Youth Tour group formed our own cooperative to manage drinks and snacks throughout the trip, and I was elected to its board of directors, given the task of making sure my peers were being treated safely and equally. This was a rigorous duty for me, mainly because it ensured that I would go out of my comfort zone and take charge.
After visiting Capitol Hill, we had a very engaging seminar with Paralympic medalist Mike Schalappi. His inspiring words were unlike anything I’d ever heard. In that moment of awe, hearing what he overcame and accomplished, I realized exactly what I wanted my future to look like.
I’m still far from finished with this journey of serving those around me, but through the Youth Tour I’ve learned that to serve and work together — whether through our electric co-op, our state or our national government — means to share a mutual understanding of our common purpose. I realized the tasks of our elected representatives include bearing our challenges and ensuring they get solved, and working hard every day to make sure the supreme law of the land is upheld. I finally understand what it means to work together and serve this nation.
About the AuthorHaley Dorsey is a rising junior at Hibriten High School in Caldwell County and a member of the Blue Ridge Energy Leadership Track Program.
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