I walked into this Fellowship when I was 7 years old and felt immediately at home. Over the next few years here, I participated in Religious Education classes, OWL sexuality education, Coming of Age, and numerous summer day camps as a camper and later as a counselor. I joined with dozens of other UUs from the front range on the 9th Grade Trip to Hopi and Navajo lands.  Now, I am very involved in district level high school youth activities, like cons (what we call our weekend retreats), and our annual QUUEST summer camp where I connect with my UU friends from across the front range.

Just like other high school students, I’m busy with school and preparing for college, and I am involved in other things besides church. I play Zimbabwean marimba with my band, Takapaenga, and I’m an avid birder. I love these things, and they keep me busy, but being a UU is an important and special part of my identity. It has given me the chance to have friendships on a deeper level than anything I have at school. With my church friends, it’s common to talk about race, gender, and what causes dreams, all in one breakfast-table conversation. Even though I only see many of them a few times a year, our friendships are stronger than most in my everyday life. Being a UU has also encouraged me to have uncomfortable but important conversations about social issues, and given me the tools to do that. Hearing other people talk about who they are and what their experiences have been has motivated me to use my privilege to create change.

Being a UU has also given me an opportunity to explore what it means to lead, even as an introverted, quiet person. This year, I am serving as Peer Chaplain for the Mountain Desert District’s Youth Adult Committee and I’m serving on the team that’s searching for our new RE director.   In these ways, I am hoping to grow, and give back to the community that has given so much to me over these years.