Wow. What a year. Final Presentation Night concluded my year-long journey in ISM. As I finished my speech detailing my research and case study, I felt a strange mixture of feelings. The first was relief, given that a year’s worth of stress ended with my final PowerPoint slide. However, I also felt hope at the same time. As I thanked my mentor, friends, and family for their support all year, I realized that Final Presentation Night was not the conclusion to my journey in public policy. This year was not a solitary study, but instead a springboard for my future endeavors.
Even though my school year is ending, I know that the lessons I have learned in ISM this year will be with me for life. I have grown so much as a woman, student, and policy analyst, through my research, mentorship, and projects. When I reflect on who I was on the first day of class compared to who I am now, I cannot overlook how much more knowledgeable I now am in regards to different aspects of politics and public policy. However, even more notable is the confidence that I have gained over this year. My mentor has supported and encouraged me in so many ways. If you would have told me in August that I would write a 23-page research paper, give a 25-minute speech, and actively participate in heavily contested elections, I would not have believed you. However, in the opportunities and support I have had through ISM, I have gained the confidence to do things I never thought possible as a high school student. ISM has truly provided me with a life-changing year.