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JTHS Student Spotlight: Amanda Affrunti, Class of 2017, Attends RYLA Leadership Conference

October 28, 2016 09:36 AM
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Joliet Central High School senior Amanda Affrunti was nominated and attended the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, a four-day leadership program in Wisconsin in partnership with Rotary International, due to her exemplary leadership and her willingness to keep learning and growing. 

Amanda is actively involved as the Public Relations Chair for the Key Club, Fearless Females Vice President, Human Relations Secretary, and a member of the Strategic Planning Team, the Disciplinary Committee, School Improvement Team, and National Honor Society.  She is also a Ms. J Top Ten Finalist at Joliet Central High School. 

Passionate about helping people, Amanda is interested in pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work.  Affrunti enhanced her leadership skills through a variety of intense physical, mental and team building activities, including group discussions, rock-climbing, and a reality simulation. She also made deep and lasting friendships with other student leaders from Chicagoland and around the world.

Guest speakers and students shared their stories about self-identity, essential worthiness, ultimate authority, self-trust, constructive control, opportunity, personal relationships and personal growth.  “It wasn’t an easy thing to be there. You were constantly being tested, but I did grow a lot. I’m stunned to see that the event had such a clear impact on me. That weekend I grew the most in my 18 years,” Affrunti said. “After attending RYLA, I take part in class now more confidently than I used to and better engage with my lessons and activities. Physically I feel I can conquer the world, and mentally I feel strong and that I can be a leader.”  

A moment that really stood out was climbing the rock wall.  Afraid of heights, Affrunti was able to overcome that fear with the encouragement of her peers and her own self-determination. “It was hard for all of us because we could have fallen, but we helped each other overcome our fears. With my friend’s encouragement and my passion for not giving up, I ended up being the first to the top. I learned that you have strength even if you feel weak. You just have to keep on going.”

Another activity that she enjoyed was the Reality Store, a simulation of life at 25 years old.  In Affrunti’s “Reality” she was a social worker and married, and would go around to different vendors, paying for housing, payroll, transportation, and other necessities. “It was a very eye-opening adult life simulation. It taught us to manage our income and be responsible with it. You can have fun and games, but at the end of the day you need to take care of business.”

When asked what advice she would give to those who did not attend the conference, Affrunti said, “Everyone is at different points in their life, but through leadership we can all connect. We all have the ability of leadership, as long as you are open to acknowledging that ability and working on it. It starts with seeing your own strengths and weaknesses, noticing them in others, and building each other up.”

 

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