Alaska Writing Site
     8:00 A.M I woke up with sun in my eyes. I wanted to go back to sleep, but I was just too excited. Today was prom day!
    For me prom is more than a dance. It is more than who gets queen, princess, king, or prince. Prom is a time when I can get together with my girlfriends, help each other get ready, and make memories. It’s nice every now and then to look and feel pretty, and prom is an excuse to dress up. I do like to dance, sing, and eat food, but getting ready and making memories is the most enjoyable part of prom for me.
    When I finally got home from prom my eyelids where ready to shut. Caked on makeup always makes my eyes sore and tired. As I laid my head on my pillow, I started thinking, “That was my last high school dance I will ever attend.” In a little over two weeks I will be done with high school. Where did all my time go? As I started to get excited that I was almost done, I soon felt a deep sense of sadness as well. This was my last prom. These are my last weeks of school. I am growing up and I can't crawl into a box. It is going to happen and soon. I have to move on. I won’t forget about the past, but I will move onto my future.
    I soon fell into a deep sleep and dreamed about my childhood and how I am so thankful to God for the place I have grown up in. Kenny Lake School and community I am going to miss you!

     A few weeks ago I had an amazing opportunity to attend a scholarship beauty pageant in Ketchikan, Alaska. The most prevalent theme at this pageant was “be your best self.”  In Ketchikan I experienced firsthand what this meant. I met amazing young women who have changed my life and have encouraged me to be my best self! I feel confident and I am ready to go out and change the world!
    Distinguished Young Women have five different attributes: Be healthy, Be involved, Be studious, Be ambitious, Be responsible. All five of these traits are very important. In Ketchikan I realized that all these traits had been demonstrated throughout the week. 
    Our week was full of interesting, adventurous, crazy, studious activities that I will never forget!  A few of these activities included zip-lining down rigorous terrain, sea kayaking in the frigid ocean water, workout and dancing routines that no one understood, radio interviews galore, visiting an old persons’ home, and many, many more.  That week brought out my best self!
    I am 18 years old and I have learned that being my best self means making the decision to put others before myself. I like myself best when I put other people and their concerns ahead of myself. Ketchikan gave me the opportunity to be my best self.  I am so thankful for the lives I hope I touched and I know touched mine. I encourage any young women to attend Distinguished Young Women in the near future! It was an experience I will never forget!

     “If you want to be happy for one hour, go watch television. If you want to be happy for one day, go to an amusement park. If you want to be happy for a lifetime, go serve others,” author unknown. A lifetime? A lifetime of service to others? From my experience, the people who live a life in service to others are most joyful. Happy people, joyful people, care about the people around them and spend their time and resources serving.
    As humans, we desire to be served. We do almost everything to better ourselves and make ourselves excel and succeed. Sometimes we even serve others to benefit ourselves. We pick up trash so that we can maybe write it on a résumé. We go to college so that some day we can serve ourselves with our degree. With this degree, we will be able to make more money to buy the car we want, the house we want, the life we want.
    Putting service to others above self is a radical way of thinking and it is different thinking than most of the world. Think about the fish who swim upstream against the current. There are many different currents they could choose to take. The American current is shouting out: more for me, serve myself, more for me! Most of the salmon take this current, because it is easy. Am I strong enough to swim against the American Dream and embrace a different current that says: it is not all about me? It is not all about me! Am I willing to think differently and put service above self?  My resounding answer is yes!
    If you want to be a good leader, then serve. If you want to be different, then serve. Do not serve just so you look good. Do not serve for your own glory. Serve from your heart! Have a heart that is willing to give your life to others. Service above self is serving others even when times are hard and not pleasant. It is doing the dirty work when  no one else wants. 
    A lifetime of service? Is this possible? As I was reading in my mother’s journal I found this quote by an unknown author, “It is the things we always hold that we will lose someday. The only things we ever keep are what we give away.” Serving others is a day-to-day, moment-by-moment decision that a person makes each morning when they wake up. Serving is possible, and it is how I want to spend the rest of my life. This is where true joy is found.

“There's something nice about the silence of a car ride in the dark, going home. When you were tired of the radio and conversation, and it was okay to just be alone with your thoughts and the road ahead. If you're that comfortable with someone, you don't have to talk.”
Sarah Dessen
    Sitting, waiting, wondering. “Where are we?” often comes to mind. Not knowing where we are or when we will be there. Watching trees out my window passing at 60 mph, giving me a headache. Car rides. Everyday humans get into cars and drive from place to place, not really thinking a whole lot about it.
    As Americans we use cars to get from point A to point B.  Some people will only see cars as that. Cars don't only serve as a tool, but they can also be a place where you could do productive things. I know I have been in cars for many hours of my life. I have used car rides for more than just getting places. Car rides have served for me as a place where I can do homework, watch movies, play games, read books, pray, think about my future, listen to music, and many other activities.
    What I was trying to get across in this blog is don’t look at car rides as a waste of time or useless. Although, at times car rides might seem shilly-shally, I challenge you to think of the countless possibilities and ideas you could come up during a car ride.  I challenge you to rethink car ride! Instead of just sitting there bored, you could possibly use them to accomplish something useful.





     “That's just the problem”
    These words, heard over and over during my time working as a “Leader in Training” (LT) at Solid Rock Bible Camp, were used by a camper who really did not know how to take care of herself. No one in her life had ever taken the time to teach her basic personal hygiene.
    This young person had a heart that was so tender. However, it appeared that people around her had a difficult time getting to know her because she smelled funny. At camp I was put in charge of her. She had the beginning stages of MRSA and needed help cleaning herself. It was my job to help her take a shower, get dressed, brush her hair, and enjoy herself. I discovered quickly that there was very much gold in her when I was able to get beyond the smell. I was able to help a person that people considered a “social outcast” in very significant ways, and I am very glad about that. During that week, my picture of a leader or someone who helps dramatically changed.
    Some people think that a real leader is someone who is on a stage directing with a microphone, telling people to do this and that. I believe that a true leader is someone willing to be a servant and do the dirty work. A leader is someone who works alongside others, helping people and working harder than anyone else, even if it goes unnoticed. A true leader is someone who leads by example.
    I am so thankful I had the opportunity to meet that little girl. I hope I made a difference in her life because I know she changed mine!


Happy day


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_   December 17, 2011 was one of the happiest days of my life. On the desk in my room, I heard the buzz of my cell phone. I quickly rushed to answer the phone to see who was on the other line. It was an unknown number, and I couldn’t wait to see who it was. I heard a male voice on the other line, and as I pulled the phone closer to me, I tried to listen close to what he had to say. This phone call was about to change my life. I had a smile from ear to ear as I said, “Thanks coach,” and hung up the phone.

    I ran down the stairs to tell my mom. As I told her who called she asked me, “What did he say?” I told her, “Coach Colintino from Robert Morris wants to give me a spot on his Division One women’s hockey team.” My mom, so excited, gave me a hug. All I needed to do was tell this coach that I wanted the spot. I called my dad and left him a message. This was the day I had been waiting for since I was in eighth grade, when I decided I wanted to play Division One hockey.

    The next few days were filled with prayer and thinking. I wanted to make sure I told my family and asked for their opinion before I made anything final. My dream became a reality on December 23, 2011 when I called to leave my coach a message letting him know that I would love to be a Colonial and play for him.

    As of the end of December, I will be attending Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where I will pursue my dream of being a Division One athlete. Along with athletics, Robert Morris has accepted me into the RMU’s Nursing Program where I will, in four years, become a registered nurse. I am so thankful and excited about attending RMU and can’t wait to start my next adventure!

_ Growing up in rural Alaska has been quite an adventure. I believe my upbringing has given me a unique perspective on life.  This includes a fascination for the beauty of the outdoors, along with a strong understanding that life can be difficult and full of exciting challenges. 

I certainly feel that my first 18 years in the 49th state have made me knowledgeable in areas most teenage girls are not. It would be more difficult for me to show someone how to curl their hair than it would  for me to instruct them on gutting a moose.  Alaska has shaped my interests and has developed in me an unusual knowledge base. 

My family goes subsistence caribou hunting. For many Alaskan families, hunting is a way of life. The people, who live here, like my family, depend on game meat. Fortunately my brother and I shot two caribou.  Gunning these animals down is one thing. Gutting the animals and hauling the meat back to camp is another.  It can be quite an ordeal!  When I am in the process of field butchering, I am sometimes reminded how different my teenage years have been spent. While many other girls my age are going to movies and malls with friends, I am often up to my forearms in blood. 

This is my life, so different from most, but I enjoy it so much and think it is truly one aspect of my life that makes me unique.  Living in remote Alaska, I have learned to appreciate the uncommon privileges associated with growing up here.   For example, in the fall, I go berry picking with my mom and sisters. My mom has taught us how to make bread, pie, and jams with these berries.  There is nothing like a fresh Alaskan blueberry pie!  Subsistence fishing and hunting take up most of the late summer and autumn season. My brothers and dad have also taught me how to dip net and fillet the Copper River red salmon that run near our home. We love salmon! We were able to put away fifty-six reds (sockeyes) this year, which is considerably less than what we used to harvest when my mom and dad had seven children at home to feed. 

After school in the winter, it is common for me to spend hours in the woods trapping with my brother. We snow machine down the trap-line, checking the traps for mink, marten, fox, and lynx.  Last weekend in addition to the caribou, we also harvested a few beavers in preparation for trapping season.  Beaver carcasses attract many fur-bearing animals. 

 NowI have one semester of high school to finish, and I am so excited to learn about the rich backgrounds of others while I am at college. At the same time, I hope to be able to share my unique childhood with the people I meet.

_      It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I am a passionate person.  Passion is what shapes my character. I am not shy about showing my emotions. I am a girl, a tough Alaskan girl who has learned a lot about working hard, discipline, and growing into a young woman. For example, I love my parents, my two brothers and four sisters so much.  I still run up and hug my mom in front of my friends and jump into my dad’s arms, sometimes without telling him first, (He has not dropped me yet!).  I think it is cool that I come from such a large family and we are very close.  That means a lot to me.

    I hope that people also know about my passion to be pleasing to God.  I asked Jesus to be my Savior when I was very young and I have a strong desire to thank God for everything He has given me. He is also helping me to trust Him in the hard times and good times. I know God loves me and forgives me.  Having this relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. Some people might say it is crazy; others might see the joy that it brings; others might see how my life is different. I say that my relationship with Jesus is what drives my passion for life, for holding onto joy despite my circumstances at times.  He is holding on to me.  He has made all the difference.

    Passion for life has translated into a passion for athletics, specifically a passion for hockey.  I am an athletic girl.  I come from an athletic family and my brothers and sisters (all seven of us) grew up playing hockey. Hockey has taught me so many life lessons, and is so much fun! One life lesson I have learned is that everything in life that is worth something comes through hard work. I have learned that it is important to be able to tell your body what to do, train diligently, and endure pain.  When I get up before school to work on my slap shot at  minus 30 degrees, it helps to have this love for the game.  However, I know it is also something I must do in order to reach my goal of playing Division 1 college hockey.  Hockey has taught me about commitment.  I often remember the saying, “If it was easy, everyone would do it!”  Commitment to something you are passionate about does not mean the easiest route, but it will be worth it in the end.

    I desire to be a girl who lives life to the fullest with no regrets, who is passionate about life, passionate about rising above circumstances, and becoming the young woman that I was created to be.

_      Sitting and waiting is something that can be very hard to do.  One may wait on themselves, others, and time. I wait on all three of these things. I am a senior with so much on my mind, so much to accomplish in the next few months.  The decisions I make in this chapter of my life will not only affect me now, but will affect my life after college. 

I have one problem:  I want to become a college athlete. In order to pursue my dream of becoming a college athlete, it is up to the coach to contact me. I must wait and wait for some coach to make up their mind whether he or she truly wants me on their team or not. Waiting is something that I don’t do very well.  I want to know what I need to accomplish and what I want to with my life now!  I don’t like the feeling that waiting gives me.

Although it is hard to wait, I know it is the right thing to do. God wants me to wait on his perfect timing, although at times it might not seem so perfect.

So….. I sit here thinking about my future and all the radical, exciting, new things I will be able to experience…. Right now all I can do is wait.

 Isaiah 40: 31

"But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength."

    A few summers ago I got the opportunity to work with a dental team in a very poor village in the mountains of Peru. Lircay, Peru is said to be the poorest village in Peru with so many needs and problems. I saw so many broken homes, dirty faces, dirty clothes, and dirty feet. The only thing that was not dirty in this small town was the people’s generous hearts.
    During that trip I learned many valuable lessons. When I reach out to others, my joy becomes full. When I was in Lircay I saw for the first time what it meant when people had nothing.  Kids would walk around with a soda bottle and play with it like it was the most fascinating thing in the world. Little girls would come up to me and pull on my hair calling me Barbie because I was probably the first person they had ever seen with blond hair. Never before had I felt so wanted and loved. I wanted to do something to help, but it was very hard breaking the language barrier.
    I wanted to figure out something tangible that I could do. I wanted to express to these kids the love I had for them and the longing I had to be of some use. Every day 50 or so kids would come to meet at the concrete court. Leaders and I would play games, build crafts, sing, and talk about God.
    One boy distinctly stands out in my mind. He always got into trouble. He took my camera and would run around without stopping. He would never listen to instructions, and seemed to be in his own little world. He caught my eye and I looked for him every day. One day when he came to play he had a tear in his eye. I could tell that he was hurting and had nothing. I had the opportunity the day before we left to give him clothes and shoes. He was so thankful. The little boy that wouldn’t do anything you said was now giving me a hug and telling me “thank you”.
    I wonder if that little boy even remembers me. I wonder what he is doing right now. I know that I will always remember him and the impact he made on my life.
    I gained so much by giving to others.  I learned that the gift of kindness can be received by anybody regardless of the language barrier.  I also learned that it is so encouraging to others just to notice them and take an interest in their lives, or to spend a day together. My life is so rich because of the many people I have had the privilege of getting to know.