Our future is in good hands. Never mind the overused adage about “kids these days” being lazy or entitled or immature. If my recent review of scholarship applications is any indication of this country’s future, I hope I’m around long enough to see these young adults’ contributions to their communities, Kansas, the country and the world.
I had the wonderful opportunity to assist in judging essays to help determine winners of several trade school and college scholarships. After reading the first applicant’s packet, I realized I would walk away from the assignment rich in knowledge, better understanding today’s youth and the difficulties faced and exacerbated by the pandemic.
Their dreams are diverse — completing certification in plumbing/heating and air conditioning, becoming a veterinarian, nurse or special education teacher or pursuing one of the various engineering disciplines. Each explained the niche in the world they plan to fill and how they plan to fill it.
Their volunteer work has connected them with generations of neighbors, from spending summers as camp counselors to creating care packages for nursing home residents disconnected from family during the pandemic.
All worked several jobs in addition to mastering homework, completing expected chores and competing in a multitude of high school activities.
The eloquently written personal essays told stories of strength, hardships, triumphs and challenges ahead. I was mostly touched by the youths’ experiences during the pandemic year. I imagined my senior year in high school and how difficult it would have been to be isolated from friends, forced to give up sports and shy away from socializing at a time when you should be socializing.
Mostly, I was struck by the optimism each one of the essays conveyed. An overwhelming sense of determination kept pushing each of them forward in life, on to the next goal.
Kids these days, like every generation before us, are misunderstood and often mislabeled by previous generations. The truth is, kids these days are amazing.