Too often we hear a lot of “sky is falling” negativity. The truth is that some pretty good things are happening. Things that give me hope for our future. I recently spent a fun few days in New Orleans. Like they say in the Big Easy, “Laissez le bon temps rouler!” The sights were great, the people friendly and the food, très délicieux! In fact, the only difficult part of my visit happened in a café in the French Quarter when I had to decide between beignets or pecan tarts. (Full disclosure: They were both great.)
I was in town attending the National Fall Leadership Conference for members of Future Business Leaders of America – Phi Beta Lambda (FBLA-PBL). The FBLA-PBL is the largest career student business organization in the world and the conference in New Orleans is one of three being held this fall in different regions of the country. Each year, FBLA-PBL helps over 230,000 members prepare for careers in business.
More than 1,400 students from the southeastern states came together to learn leadership skills, collaborate, and network, and they are some of the best young people one can meet. They are bright, articulate, caring, and full of a desire to be a positive light in the world. FBLA members WANT to lead out. They WANT to be difference makers. They WANT the responsibility of tomorrow’s challenges.
Too often, the next generation of Americans gets negatively labeled — called lazy, narcissistic, coddled, delusional, and disengaged. It’s true that those adjectives can be justly applied to some youth. But after spending several days interacting with the FBLA students and their teachers, I’m using a different set of adjectives. FBLA students as a whole are dedicated, passionate, innovative, driven, respectful, confident, focused, and inspiring.
Besides their regular activities, the FLBA members I met were encouraged to participate in a community food drive. In the coming year, individual chapters across the country will be teaming with the March of Dimes to raise money to help prevent birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. The March of Dimes is FBLA-PBL’s national service partner, and together they have raised more than $15 million to improve the health of mothers and their babies.
Most of the students in attendance were high school juniors and seniors at a time in their lives when lots of important decisions need to be made in the next year or two: decisions that will influence the direction of their lives and careers. After speaking with many of the students, I’m confident that, regardless of their career choices, success lies in their futures.
I’m proud to work for TestOut, a company whose goal is to “Make a Difference.” One of the more rewarding responsibilities I have is associating with young people like FBLA members. They are making a difference in high school and I know they will continue long after they graduate.
The future is bright. If you doubt it, find your local FBLA chapter and meet some amazing leaders of tomorrow.
About the Author — Travis Wilde is the Southeast U.S. High School Account Manager for TestOut Corporation. He is a graduate of Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University. When not helping IT instructors, he loves spending time with his amazing wife, Sally, and their five children. Travis enjoys most everything his children do: baseball, Irish dancing, tennis, and flag football. When he has a minute for himself, he enjoys getting lost in a good book, cooking, or skiing. One of his most prized accomplishments is teaching his children to love winter sports — boys ski and girls snowboard!