NLC – Raising Student Leadership

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Relying on God at the Heart of Leadership

We want to share with you a recent highlight involving Abby Mietchen, a NLC 2012 graduate. Abby was one of two individuals chosen from 250 of her peers to speak at the Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Each June, youth from across the nation are honored for earning Congress’ highest award for youth – the Congressional Award Gold Medal. Members of Congress present medals to their constituents and meet with the families and advisers

Abby was one of two individuals chosen from 250 of her peers to speak at the Congressional Award Gold Medal Ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

who have supported them in their journey. Below are excerpts from Abby’s talk. This is just one example of the abundant blessings resulting from the fruits of our labor.

Excerpts from an NLC Student’s Speech at the 2013 Congressional Award Gold Medalist Ceremony in Washington, D.C.:

… My name is Abby Mietchen and I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah. I recently finished my freshman year at Colorado College, in Colorado Springs, where I’m pursuing a degree in Secondary English Education. I feel so honored and humbled to speak before you today as one of this year’s Congressional Award Gold Medalists… I will explain how I became involved in the Congressional Award, share some of my favorite experiences from my involvement over the years, and then conclude with how I will move forward in my life and what I want for the members of this audience.

When I was in eighth grade, I joined the National Leadership Council, or NLC, a youth leadership program… There were two major facets of NLC: involvement in the Congressional Award program and a dedication to a servant-leadership-based approach to life. I absolutely loved being a part of the program and I feel so blessed for the friends I made and the experiences I was fortunate to take part in…

Classical piano has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I undergo quite an ethereal process whenever I step on stage and I truly become the best version of myself, something I believe the Congressional Award pushes us to do. In the winter of my junior year, after facing incredibly difficult personal challenges the year before, I was chosen to perform the Grieg piano concerto with the Salt Lake Symphony. After nearly eighteen months of preparation, I reached my final dress rehearsal the night before the concert, and I could not remember one note. The rehearsal, needless to say, was a complete disaster and I went home, sobbed, and felt completely discouraged about the concert and even about my purpose in life.

Then, I started to pray. What God said to me next has become the anthem for my life: “Abby, stop trying to do. Just be.” If you take nothing away from my speech, take that: Just be. I find that we tend to focus on the activity much more so than the essence. I didn’t need to play hundreds of notes flawlessly; I just needed to be a pianist, and be the music. The next night, in a beautiful dress, I played from my soul, my fingers dancing over the keys, because my only concern was just, to be. My fear transformed into determination and passionate freedom and that concert was one of the highlights of my life. With the right attitude, one that’s humble and grateful, any challenge can be met…


Public service has never been a challenge for me, but I haven’t always gone about it with the right attitude. I used to think that I was doing things for others because I was somehow “better” and they were somehow “less fortunate.” This type of attitude fuels service out of pity and not out of compassion, thus detracting from the quality and mentality of service. I’ll share an experience that completely changed the way I now go about giving. During the summer of 2010, my NLC class traveled to Urubamba, Peru to volunteer in a rural community. We built a middle school [class room] and taught classes at the elementary school.

One of the components of the trip was a house visit, where we visited the homes of the students and their families and asked them what things they thought they needed, rather than us telling them what we thought they needed. And we actually listened. I’ve found this method to be extremely respectful towards the recipients of service, in a way that both values their pride and preserves their dignity, because they are not treated like the underprivileged. It enables thoughtful dialogue versus condoning patronizing diatribe. It becomes a process of enabling from the heart rather than simply giving from the pocketbook. As a result of that trip, my life was completely changed. I became more compassionate and leveled myself with those who I was empowering, because there is no hierarchy in the world of selflessness and God does not, and will never, choose favorites.


…And finally, here is my charge to you in the audience: I think what all of us, including me, can do, is challenge ourselves daily by seeking to improve upon what has already been improved upon in our world, our  communities, and ourselves. Do things that challenge the heart, soul, body, and mind. Explore your passions and treasure what makes you excited to get up in the morning. Especially, take time to be grateful for the goodness you receive.

We find ourselves in a world seemingly plagued by distress, hurt, sorrow, and anger, when, in reality, we have never seen more compassion, love, and a sense of brotherliness. All of you have taken the commitment to live brotherliness, because you have sought to understand the core of the human condition in both yourself and in others; one that is inherently and simply, good. And that is a beautiful, wondrous thing…

National Leadership Council (NLC) from DiscoveryBound on Vimeo.


To support the National Leadership Council and their multi-year servant program dedicated to fostering spiritual growth, leadership qualities and a service approach to life, please visit the DiscoveryBound website (under Designation select “DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council Fund”), contact us by email or call 303.779.3000 ext. 107.

Thank you for your support!

Adventure Unlimited / DiscoveryBound is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
A/U-DB Foundation is the fundraising arm of Adventure Unlimited-DiscoveryBound.

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