By Sarah Fuller
Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013
To young women:
That might seem blunt, but as you grow older, as you begin to pursue your interests, to develop career goals, to someday take your place as a mature, adult member of society, you will realize the importance of your own voice. How many times have you been told to be quiet, to accept things the way they are, not to question what is happening around you? Well, I’m here to tell you not to listen to that.
You are strong, intelligent, beautiful, generous young women. You do not realize how much potential and influence you have, but if you sit on the sidelines or you just go with the flow, you might be passing up an opportunity to do something HUGE!
From the time that I was four until I was seven years old, one of my favorite pastimes was asking my parents “Why?” Every answer they gave me received the same response from me. “Why are the trees green, Dad?” “Their leaves contain chlorophyll,” my dad would explain, and I would again ask, “But why?” I now know that I drove my parents insane, but I’m so thankful that this curiosity has stayed with me. Throughout high school, I was always the student whose hand was in the air. My classmates knew me as always having questions. I went through a time where I was embarrassed by that, but I came to realize that I don’t learn something unless I truly understand it. This is the time in your life to breathe in every breath of knowledge you can get out of the world around you. Do it! Ask questions.
Take time to think about all the information you receive each and every day. You hear of wars happening on other continents, of political issues affecting our own nation. You learn formulas in math class, you memorize dates of important historical events, you watch television and see the media’s image of “beautiful”. Unless you’re asking questions, what you’re learning is only on the surface. I’m not saying that you have to always ask others; ask yourself questions too! Why is there tension between these two countries? How does this political issue affect my own community? How does this formula I just memorized relate to what I’m learning on a larger scale? Is being a model or a movie star the only definition of beauty? When you start asking questions, you’ll want to find answers. You’ll want to learn more, you’ll search for ways to change things that you don’t think are right. You’ll get involved in your community so that you can make a difference, you’ll read the news because you want to know what is happening in the world that is all around you.
To young women: Recognize your importance. Understand that your knowledge can inspire others, that asking leads to learning and that the opinions you develop can have an enormous impact on your friends, your community, and the world at large.
To young women: Realize that you don’t have to always have a solution. Part of the beautiful journey of life is searching for answers!
To young women: Never stop asking questions.
An inquisitive young woman
Sarah Fuller is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in Early Childhood Education & Special Education. Originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Sarah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013. Learn more about Sarah here!