Challenging the Status Quo

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

My home state of Idaho received a letter grade F in the year of 2015 when its education rankings were compared to those of other states all around the nation. I didn’t want to be held to this statistic. My friends and classmates were all aware of this reality, too, yet it seemed that there wasn’t anything we could do about it. The same words repeated over, and over in our heads: we are just high school students, finish the assignments, take the tests, and graduate. The public education system had been around since 1820 without significant change. And, although I was given more opportunities as a student at an International Baccalaureate school, I knew that I still had an obligation to speak out for change and reform in the status quo. Not everyone had those same opportunities.

In October of 2015, I participated in a 24 hour design thinking challenge—the Think Challenge—to brainstorm ways to reform education in Idaho and make it 21st century relevant. There were common themes that students wanted—project-based learning, real world relevance, and community engagement. I began realizing that I had immense power as a forward-thinking high school student, and that I needed to use this power to the best of my ability. I wanted to...

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