Each May, Indy’s Child offers a special section called Students Who Shine, which allows schools across Indy the opportunity to highlight a student they feel exemplifies their school’s values. In our May print issue, we inadvertently omitted Elaina Williams, a junior at Lawrence Central High School. Below she answers our questions and lets us know a little more about herself.
1. What school achievement are you most proud of so far?
The achievement I am most proud of is undoubtedly my recent actions regarding the Lawrence Township School Board and the referendum. In early March, the school board hosted two public forums to gather intel from Lawrence families on three options regarding the future of aquatics in the township. Two of the three options would fill in the pool at LC. All those who utilized their school pool would have to be shuttled off campus to swim. The second I heard the plans, I felt that these options could have possibly deconstructed the last four years of LC aquatic program growth. I was sure that these possibilities would also decrease the size and competitive opportunities of the swim and dive team, purpose challenges to the exceptional learners program and withdraw the pool accessibility from the Lawrence Central community. As a leader on the swim team, I felt inclined to act, to somehow open the school board’s eyes to the impact of their possible decision. I crafted a petition that advocated for the construction of a new pool at Lawrence Central and the renovation of the existing pool at Lawrence North, giving both schools equal access to water. I set the lofty goal of 500 signatures, and hosted a student rally in attempts to raise awareness and student participation. My team of fellow swimmers and I raised over 900 student and parent signatures over the span of five days, far exceeding my expectations and wildest dreams. I hand delivered the petition to the Lawrence Education and Community Center, and left the building feeling immensely accomplished and proud of my persistence in the advocacy for what I believed in. This has been my biggest accomplishment and my largest leadership role I’ve had the honor to participate in. That experience had tested my grit and perseverance, as not everyone was encouraging, and a few times I had doubted myself. But in the end, I showcased my passion for student voices, as well as my own voice. I set out to do something big and I accomplished something bigger.
2. What are your future plans?
My plans after high school include attending college where I will study business and communication. After earning my bachelors degree in those fields I plan on attending law school. Post law school I would like to practice employee Law and eventually secure a position in politics, a career path that would allow me to practice my passion for public speaking and my love of advocacy. As a future lawyer and politician, I will differ from those around me in that I will carve out a path for myself built on principle and ethics. I will work tirelessly to fight for equality and justice for minorities like myself. My most advantageous goal is to begin my own all female Law firm that would provide internship opportunities, advocacy techniques and career experiences, as well as encourage other young women to take up a career in Law.
3. How has Lawrence Central prepared you for your future?
My high school career at Lawrence Central has taught me a great deal of lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, one being that hard work always prevail. One of the life mantras that I picked up at LC is that hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard. I first saw this phrase upon the wall of the orchestra room on my first day of 9th grade, and it has stuck with me ever since, fueled me to do my best in all that I do. Another thing that I learned from LC is the impact of unity. I would not have been able to accomplish more than 900 signatures without the help of my friends and fellow student body. I learned that If I could reach out and make people aware, share with them passion and emotion, then there was nothing we couldn’t do together. I learned that a leader is a listener, and that no matter how loud my voice was , the voice of many would always be louder. The most important lesson that I have learned at LC, the lesson that I will bring forward with me into my future, the lesson that I will utilize through every step on my journey, is that there is power in diversity. When crafting the petition my primary concern was the benefits to the minority community around my school. What about them? How are they going to reach a pool? How are they being represented? And for the first time, my immediate thoughts were other than myself, and my eyes were opened to what was really important, the future bears that will walk through the main doors well after I have graduated. My whole high school career I have been surrounded by strong role models who are minorities, and who have exemplified poise, professionalism and compassion. I have been surrounded by minority students who always outwork others, who practice dedication, who always push themselves to achieve. There is a unique kinship in minority communities that often goes overlooked, but is nonetheless advantageous and earnest, and I would not have been able to be a part of it without the power of maroon and the strength of grey.