Elizabeth Williams

2015 recipient of the 4-year-renewable Murice C. Talley Memorial Scholarship and the one-time Newton Academy-Forster/Stevens Scholarship

There are endless possibilities if you know how to apply yourself. Establishing ourselves as confident and forward-thinking young people not only involves finding where we’re going, but also putting the effort forth to get there. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough, we must apply.” Whatever your passion is, you will have to work to reach it. Success depends not just on talent, but also on how badly you want something. You may not be the best at what you do. Most people aren’t. But if you work hard enough to achieve your goal, you can get there. Don’t make excuses: Instead of finding all the reasons you couldn’t or can’t do something, find the one reason that you CAN. The only limits you have are the ones you place upon yourself, so keep a positive mindset. If you get knocked down, stand back up and try again. Learn from your mistakes and move on. And if doing what you love makes you unpopular, who cares? If it’s what you really have a passion for, then the opinions of others won’t stop you. If money is an issue, find a way to make it work; don’t take “no” for an answer. With the right mindset, you can be successful at whatever you set your mind to.

I feel that Dean Potter embodied this spirit of determination and passion. Dean was a highliner, extreme climber, and BASE-jumper who died recently in a BASE-jumping accident. In his 43 years, Dean set multiple records and pioneered new methods of climbing and wingsuit flying. He pursued his dream of human flight despite its risks because it was what he loved. His passion for climbing and flying did result in his death, and some may see him as a reckless and foolish individual due to this fact. But I believe that although Dean’s death was tragic, the way he lived his life made it worth it. He did what he loved, pursuing his passion to the end, and personally, I’d rather die doing what I love than to lead a boring existence doing something that I don’t care about. 

At one point Dean Potter said, “Part of me says it’s kind of crazy to think you can fly your human body. Another part of me thinks all of us have had the dream we can fly. Why not chase after it? Maybe it brings you to some other tangent. Chasing after the unattainable is the fun part.” So it’s not about what you choose to do; rather, it's about how you choose to do it. If your dream seems impossible to reach, go for it anyway, because as humans, we are built to strive. Set goals, and then surpass them. Most importantly, do what you love doing, regardless of what’s in your way. You will, at some point, fail. And that's okay. Without failure, we wouldn't know success. Ultimately, though, you will succeed- not necessarily monetarily, but spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. If you live your life doing what you love, you will be happy. 

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