Melissa McEwen is working to create her future using the 8 Keys of Excellence character education principles as her guide after attending Senior Forum in 2007 and 2008 and then Leadership Forum in 2009 at Colorado College.
“I learned a lot about positivity and how you are the creator of who you are,” the 20-year-old Tampa resident says. “It helped a lot with memorizing tools. The keys – this is it, staying in the moment, the organization maps I would do – help with organizing my day-to-day time.”
Melissa says the 8 Keys give her tools for living with integrity, purpose and perseverance, while SuperCamp taught her new study skills and gave her supportive friendships.
“When I went to Colorado I did not know I was going back with some people I had been going with every year in North Carolina,” she says. “I formed really good friendships and kept seeing them at Leadership Forum in Colorado.”
The 8 Keys and how they have helped Melissa:
INTEGRITY – Match behavior with values
Demonstrate your positive personal values in all you do and say. Be sincere and real.
Melissa says she’s learned to be true to herself, so she doesn’t say one thing and do another. “It helps me in my friendships to not have a mask and be real. I feel better about myself, too.”
FAILURE LEADS TO SUCCESS – Learn from your mistakes
View failures as feedback that provides the information you need to learn, grow, and succeed.
Melissa started her freshman year of college only to find the particular college was not right for her. Failure from Success means “I do not look at it as a failure but (as) how can I make my future brighter…No matter how difficult they (mistakes) are, it makes you a stronger and brighter person when you turn the situation around into a learning experience.”
SPEAK WITH GOOD PURPOSE – Speak honestly and kindly
Think before you speak. Make sure your intention is positive and your words are sincere.
Melissa says: “I use that key every day because I believe if you treat others the way you want to be treated and think before you speak…people realize you have more respect for them.”
THIS IS IT! – Make the most of every moment
Focus your attention on the present moment. Keep a positive attitude.
Melissa says this key has helped her overcome struggles and connect with others to help them. Learning at SuperCamp to make the most of each moment “was definitely a life-changing experience. It was a positive week and it made me feel good about myself.”
COMMITMENT – Make your dreams happen
Take positive action. Follow your vision without wavering.
Melissa has not yet determined what her dream career is, but she wants to work with children, particularly those who were abused, to find loving adoptive homes. “I was adopted as a baby. 3 weeks old. I knew a lot of friends who came from abusive families and they found wonderful families,” she says. “I want to help kids who are in abusive families where they can find good families who care for and support them.”
OWNERSHIP – Take responsibility for actions
Be responsible for your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. “Own” the choices you make and the results that follow.
Melissa says this key helps her understand that if she says or does something wrong she should apologize and take responsibility. “It’s knowing that you can’t just blame everybody around you,” she says.
FLEXIBILITY – Be willing to do things differently
Recognize what’s not working and be willing to change what you’re doing to achieve your goal.
For Melissa this key applies at this moment in her life as she decides what she wants to do next. “I am trying to figure out where I am going to go and what I am going to do and rearrange my future goals and dreams to make them happen,” she says.
BALANCE – Live your best life
Be mindful of self and others while focusing on what’s meaningful and important in your life. Inner happiness and fulfillment come when your mind, body, and emotions are nurtured by the choices you make.
“Every day is a balance – you have to balance what you want to do and your time from when you wake up until you go to bed,” Melissa says. “Finding a balance within yourself and people around you to support you…people that believe in you. And if you believe in yourself you can overcome anything.”