“NLC was the program I never knew I needed,” says Michaela, a high school sophomore in DiscoveryBound’s National Leadership Council. “It was – and is – an experience that I carry with me at every point. It has forced me to grow, it has shaped me, and it has opened the door to so many amazing experiences.”
In particular, Michaela has found a strong support network of friends in her 18 NLC classmates and two class leaders. “Going into sophomore year has been challenging, and I have had to work on numerous family struggles, along with the stresses of school, friends and extracurriculars,” she says. “But I know, in any moment of weakness, when I struggle to listen to God, I have a group of 20 other people I can turn to.”
She found this support last October, during track season. While on a break from her training, she went for a ride on her horse. The horse slipped and fell on her foot, injuring it. Her grandmother, who practices Christian Science, immediately supported her through prayer and helped her back to the house.
Right away, Michaela contacted her classmates, asking if any of them had the number of a practitioner who had worked with them during their class’s adventure trip. She was grateful for the quick responses, although she wasn’t able to reach the practitioner. But she had been texting her class leader, Kris Proctor, and reached out with another text: “I’m really struggling right now, please help.”
“She responded to my plea with so many ideas that I continue to use if I have a bad day,” Michaela relates. “That foundation we have was what I was leaning on so heavily. It helped me be at peace with my situation, and it allowed me to focus on prayer, instead of being worried.”
“Michaela was frustrated with not being able to race in her favorite cross country meet,” Kris recalls. So she shared with her a passage from Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 390) that was part of that week’s Bible Lesson, replacing “sin and sickness” with “accident”:
Suffer no claim of [accident] to grow upon the thought. Dismiss it with an abiding conviction that it is illegitimate, because you know that God is no more the author of [accidents]. You have no law of His to support the necessity of [accidents], but you have divine authority for denying that necessity and healing the sick[!]
Kris then told Michaela about a complete healing she witnessed when a horse stepped on her sister’s face. “It showed me that God’s control over everything was intact, and there can never be any separation,” Kris says. “So, regardless of whether or not Michaela ran, the experience of this race was complete and perfect for her and every runner.”
“I am immensely grateful for the support I have gotten,” Michaela says. “Anything could come up, and I know I have an entire group of people behind me who love me to the ends of the earth and back. It’s not something I have felt so strongly before, and having that wall of arms around to catch me is a comfort.”
Michaela recognizes that the support she feels from her class will remain long after her NLC graduation. “They have become a part of me that I will never forget,” she says. “I expect to call them in 30 years asking about why my teenager wants to leave me and go join this program that allows them to travel internationally. And I imagine them reminding me that I did a similar thing and came away as a better, stronger person with a love of the world that I couldn’t even comprehend before that experience.
“Thank you, National Leadership Council. I hope I can help half as many people as you have.”
Practical Things I’ve Learned in NLC
I have the responsibility of paying for my experience in the program (I have been blessed in many ways).
I have learned that there is more power in ignoring the hypnosis of money, than in actually being hypnotized by it.
I have learned how to work well with other people, a skill I lacked, but was not willing to admit.
I have learned the value in documenting many hours for the Congressional Award and how to be stupendously meticulous in capturing everything.
I have learned the power of goal-setting, and having the discipline to follow said goals.
I have never realized the rewards of following through on a commitment you have set for yourself, until I was required to for NLC.
I have learned that, in fact, there are many things that push me outside my comfort zone – I just didn’t know them. As a hardcore runner and horseback rider, not much can faze me in terms of physical comfort zones, but I have gotten to know my mindful zone, and exactly how far I can push myself. I carry myself differently in how I act in stressful or uncomfortable situations.
I am closer to God and feel like I can easily turn to him when I am struggling with something.
Programs: DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council (Class of 2021P)
School Year: Sophomore
Interests: Riding horses, running, hiking with her dog, puzzles, anything that requires creativity: playing guitar, piano, piccolo and flute; reading, writing, dancing