Amy Carson Dennis
Media Director, Alabama

Amy DennisI don’t like to express myself in clichés, but some thoughts are too important not to be stated.

This moment, this day, this time in your life can never be duplicated.

Your time on the mountain, these six days are not to be wasted. I’m sure people have given you advice about what you must do while at CONA. This advice was all probably valid, but I can simplify it for you:

Do what you can with this opportunity you have been given.

A mistake you don’t want to make is thinking that you will get another week on the mountain. From year to year, your circumstances could change drastically. You cannot glide through this week. It is not a trial run. Make the most of it and allow yourself to be inspired and motivated by the people around you.

It is important to acknowledge the great honor it is to be here. Some were chosen because you stood out among hundreds of other delegates at your state program. Others had to go through a rigorous application process, not to mention those who have been raising money all year to pay for the plane ticket to get here. No matter the obstacles, you have been given an opportunity to speak for what you believe in a place where people will show you support, despite their own beliefs (spirit fingers
to that).

I could tell you what Blue Ridge means to me, but it will mean something completely different to you. The secret to making the most out of this is to be your authentic self. You are among hundreds who understand we all need to improve ourselves and our country. You are likeminded people with individual ideas to change the collective nation. This is a place where you are encouraged to be utterly yourself, because otherwise everyone would be debating the same topics, and there would be no solutions.

So be yourself and speak up when you feel inclined. Take in your surroundings and get to know the people behind the politics. Mark your CONA experience with fearlessness, confidence, authenticity and a carpe diem mentality that will make this week one you will never forget.

Amy Dennis is a junior at the University of Montevallo in Alabama. The conference alum returns to the mountain this week to serve the members of the CONA media.

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