#BornToLead: Kelsie Smithson

 Photo by Lizzie Loo Photography

Photo by Lizzie Loo Photography

I gave my first political speech from a hospital bed when I was in the 9th grade.  This situation was certainly not by choice; somewhere in the brief window between Class Officer sign-ups and Election Day I managed to find myself in a head-on collision that left me immobile for a week and in recovery for months after.  At the blissful age of fourteen, I didn’t give much thought to the concept of a ‘pity vote’ (ten years later my adult self begs to differ).  Ultimately, I won the position I was vying for and set off a chain reaction that would eventually lead me to become the woman that I am today.

My scope has never needed to be too broad when looking for role models.  Early on my mom taught me what it meant to stand up for myself.  An introvert at heart, this was never an easy task.  What I did glean from it was not only to always stand up for myself, but to stand up for other people as well.  The perfect opportunity to put this to practice came with a nomination to represent my high school in a local girls leadership program.  I got to learn about and advocate for causes that I believed in, and even better, it was alongside 40 other girls that shared the same drive to lead that I did.  Graduating from the program I had a strong sense of exactly what it meant pull other women along with me on the path to fulfilling my ambitions.

Now, as an Adult Mentor for the group that taught me so much as a high school student, I get to see sparks of political inspiration on a weekly basis.  From learning to write her first Opinion piece for the newspaper to taking advantage of shadowing opportunities with her local Councilperson, each girl’s desire to influence the world is almost palpable.  With this being said, I’m ashamed to admit that over the years my drive to become the first female president of the US began to wane after some time.  Thankfully my passion has been reignited by the future generation of female political leaders.

When I run for office I want it to be on a platform that I will be proud to stand for.  I will look to the women who have done it so successfully before me and I will make it my personal mission to continue the work that they have started.  With the local, national, and global political landscape changing so quickly, I know that I will be walking into some uncharted territories  but I am not afraid.