"Dear Nicole, Thanks for coming to our school and taking your time to teach us about your career. The moment I heard you, a spark came up. The way you talked about what you did made me realize how much I'd want to be like you. Someone who has passion and loves their job. I want to be like you. Someone who cares."
In 2011, when I traveled as a student in Up with People there was a word that we used quite often. A seemingly normal word developed and grew into something that defined my semester abroad and the years that followed.
After we'd have meetings or huddles, right before we'd start a new project or tackle a new challenge we would break on the word 'Burn'. Burn was more than just a word, it was a declaration, it was a call to action. Burn was a reminder to always be the spark that lights the flame, to always empower.
During my student semester abroad I would pump myself up on difficult days by saying the word burn and trying to implement it into my day. I remember one day in particular, I had to do an educational workshop in a difficult class. The students didn't seem very engaged and not at all excited that we were there. I thought to myself if I can inspire these young adults, if I can allow my passion to bleed onto their lives then I'll be doing something right, I'll be burning.
I walked into that class with a fire burning in my eyes and passion roaring in my chest. I gave them everything I had and when I left I felt like there was a heat on my back from the excitement and the energy that was left in the class. For the first time in my life, I felt like I had made a real difference, like I had changed the atmosphere of the room instead of it changing me.
I started this post with a letter that I got from a student that I met a few weeks ago. In October I spoke on a career panel at a high school in Denver; my topic was education and I spoke about the different jobs I've had and how they fit into the field of education. I spent a majority of my time on the panel laughing with the students and telling them about all of the times that I changed my mind about what I wanted to do with my life. Each rotation ended with me telling them about how broad and exciting the education field is and how it has changed my life. I burned so bright that day.
I grew up never wanting to be a teacher, never wanting to work in education. I wanted to change the world, I wanted my name to be written down in books and for everyone to always remember me. As I got older, as I was changed by education and educators I realized that the way to change the world, the way to make a real impact is through education.
It's through my career in education that I was able to travel all over the world. It was through education that I was given the chance to speak in front of classrooms on 4 different continents and share my opinions and encourage conversation among youth. It's through education that I get the chance to work with students all over Denver, helping them to see their worth and the possibilities that their future holds.
Reading that letter from that student kind of made me have an 'I can't believe this is my life' moment. I can't believe that I've grown up to become the person that I am today. Someone that loves young adults and fights for their dreams, someone that a student meets for 15 minutes and knows right away that I care about them. Someone that burns in every aspect of their life.
I hope that you've found your passion in life. I hope it roars inside of your chest and you use it everyday to make a difference. I hope when you meet people that they look into your eyes and know that you're not just floating through life but rather you're on a mission, you're walking in your purpose.
I hope that you burn. I hope you burn so bright that you ignite every single being that you come in contact with. I hope one day, you get a letter from a person that you met for only a few moments. A letter that tells you how you've changed their life. I hope you change the world.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn."