Anderson elected national president for FCCLA
Devils Tower – For the first time since the organization’s name change, a Wyoming student was elected Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) National President.
Grace Belize Anderson, the 17-year-old daughter of Gary and Zeta Anderson, was elected the 2017-18 national president of FCCLA during the 2017 National Leadership Conference on July 2-6.
“FCCLA is a national career and technical student organization, and our central focus is on the family, which makes us very unique,” says Anderson.
Students are able to compete at the state, regional and national level in a variety of competitions ranging from FCCLA’s Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) events to a LifeSmarts Knowledge Bowl.
“Where other organizations are more specific to a certain area such as agriculture or business,” comments Anderson, “FCCLA is unique because it offers a project area for everyone. From the student who loves fitness to the student who enjoys politics and government, projects range from Power of One to Culinary Arts. There are unlimited possibilities through FCCLA, and there is sure to be a project that can fit absolutely anyone’s interests.”
She continues, “We’re trying to help our members explore different career options, prepare them to be family members and community leaders and examine roles they can play when they become an adult through the different competitions and the classes they can take in school.”
Anderson laughs as she reflects on how she first became involved in FCCLA.
“I joined back in eighth grade, and it was actually because my mom forced me to,” she says. “I just thought it was going to be another organization to be involved in, and I was already involved in sports and 4-H and wasn’t sure I wanted to join.”
She notes that, although she was hesitant at first, she fell in love with the program after competing at her first state convention, where she earned a gold medal and then competed in the national competition where she earned another gold medal.
“I remember walking into the opening session at nationals, which was in San Antonio, Texas that year, and with 7,500 people in one room, it was definitely an experience to remember,” she comments.
Anderson explains her dream of becoming a national officer was born at her first national convention, as well.
“It’s been kind of fun to see how I’ve traveled from my dream being born at nationals to where I am now,” she continues.
“One of my biggest goals personally is to really help members realize they can have the same impact that I can have as national president,” says Anderson.
She recalls looking up to national officers and thinking they had unique characteristics that she didn’t have.
“Now, being in this position, I realized there’s no difference other than the fact I can stand on stage and have the title of president, but members still have that ability to lead and make a difference,” Anderson comments.
From the organization standpoint, Anderson explains she looks forward to the restructuring of some programs and increasing promotion.
“The association name change from Future Homemakers of America to FCCLA was not promoted as well as it could have been. I think we really need to promote our name change, along with all FCCLA now encompasses,” she continues. “Promotion will help both boost our male membership and help our organization be recognized on the national level.”
In addition to her involvement with FCCLA, Anderson stays busy with other youth organizations.
“I’m actually wrapping up my term on the State 4-H Leadership Team, which has been a blast and an absolutely amazing experience,” says Anderson.
This year, she was also awarded her gold medal she earned through the Congressional Award program in Washington, D.C., and she prioritizes being politically active.
“I’m also involved with Teen Pact, which is a Christian government leadership school,” comments Anderson.
With a heart for service, Anderson serves as the northeast Wyoming communications director for Operation Christmas Child.
“It’s an organization through Samaritan’s Purse where we fill shoeboxes with toys, hygiene items, school supplies and gifts, and then, they’re shipped around the world to kids in third-world countries as Christmas gifts,” she explains.
The rising senior attends Wyoming Virtual Academy, an online public school, where she is involved with several student organizations.
“This year, I will be serving as the vice president for our National Honor Society,” continues Anderson. “I also help with our school SWAT team which is Students With a Target. We act as mentors to incoming students to our school.”
As she looks toward life after high school, Anderson notes she plans to attend college and hopes to continue on to obtain her master’s degree.
“Right now, I’m looking at Liberty University, which is in Lynchburg, Va. or Masters College, which is outside Los Angeles, Calif.,” she says.
Anderson is currently deciding between a dual major of communications and political science or pursuing a degree in engineering.
“I really want to do several different things throughout my life,” explains Anderson. “I don’t necessarily want to stick with one career.”
She concludes, “I would like to eventually go into politics, as well. We’ll see what doors open for me ahead.”
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.