Written by: James Oscar, Fundamental Foundations Chair
It’s the middle of January 2018, and I’m standing in a school bathroom stall hurriedly changing into my wrinkled khakis and red, plaid dress shirt. The adrenaline is coursing through my veins, and I am nearly tripping over my clothes, rushing to get everything on. I slip my shoes on, shove my other clothes into my backpack, unlock the bathroom stall door and … here we go.
Why am I here? Today is the day for the election of webmaster for my school’s Key Club, and I’m about to give my campaign speech (by speech, I mean a bunch of notecards with bullet points of answers to sample questions that the audience was given). As I walk toward the study hall room, I pull the notecards out of my pocket and hold them in my trembling hands. I wait outside while the other candidate gives her speech, which creates the perfect conditions for the anxiety to accumulate within my mind.
Clapping. I hear clapping. She’s finished, which means I’m next. The door opens. She walks out. I walk in. I approach the front of the room, awkwardly spitting out my gum. Grace Chapa, my good friend and club president, smiles and gives me the go to start my speech. I look down at the notecards.
“Oh my God,” I think.
“I should have written an actual speech.” Whoops!
I stand there for what feels like an eternity. I messily plead my case to the audience as to why I think I am fit for the job, and, spoiler alert, it is a disaster. I trip over my words, and even lose my place in my speech for 10 seconds (which, in a room full of people waiting for you to get to your point, feels like hours). Finally, the speech ends, and everybody claps. I sit down. Seemingly drenched in anxious sweat, I feel the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. But, after the disaster of a speech that I just gave, I am positive I’m not going to win. After elections are finished, I walk to the music wing where my friends were waiting for me.
“How did it go?” they ask.
“… I don’t want to talk about it,” I respond.
I get a text from my dad that he had arrived, and I walk out of the school with my head held low. Hey, at least I ran for the position, right?
Two hours later, my phone buzzes.
“Congratulations to James Oscar for becoming our 2018-2019 Key Club Webmaster!” reads the notification.
Words cannot describe how happy I am! I still don’t know how I won. Despite the absolute mess of a speech and my complete lack of decorum, I got the position.
Let’s fast forward about a year and two months. I attend the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District convention with my division. At this point, I have exceeded my expectations of how I would grow as a person. By serving on the Key Club officer board, talking to people has become much easier to me, and I feel more comfortable doing service projects. I used to be anxious to go to events because I was scared I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to. Now, Key Club feels like home to me. I’ve made so many friends and become so close with everyone on our officer board. Little did I know, my growth as a person after district convention would EXPLODE.
The 2019 Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District Convention was held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Every year, Key Clubbers from all over Wisconsin and Upper Michigan come together to celebrate another year of service, and I was able to attend! The weekend was filled with workshops, meeting people and competitions. It was such an enjoyable time. I remember sitting in my chair during the closing ceremony and watching the district board sit on stage together. They looked like they were having so much fun and that they were happy to be there. I knew they were high schoolers, just like me, who enjoyed volunteering to improving their community. At that point, I knew I wanted to be one of them.
During the bus ride home, I found that applications to be on the District Board were coming out soon. I emailed our new district governor and expressed an interest in becoming a committee chair. The day applications came out, I sat in my bed and spilled my heart and soul into the application. I detailed my experience with Key Club and how I felt I embodied the organization. I got an email back that I had made it to the interview round! The interview was on my birthday, which I felt was a pretty good sign. It went well, and I felt really connected with Justice and Elizabeth, our governor and director of committees who interviewed me. Little did I know, Elizabeth and Justice would soon become two of my most treasured friends on the board.
I remember the moment I got THE email from Justice. I was standing in the middle of Red Robin waiting for my friends to arrive for my birthday dinner. I opened it, and quickly scanned the text.
“On behalf of the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan District of Key Club International, I am excited to welcome you onto our District Board as our Fundamental Foundations Committee Chair.
Words cannot BEGIN to describe how happy I was. Not even my election as webmaster could compare. Then, naturally, I began to prepare for board training.
I don’t really know how to describe the experience I had at board training because of how unique it was. I was sitting at Camp Wawbeek, a camp funded by Kiwanis, surrounded by about 25 other people who shared the same passion and love for Key Club and service that I did. Board training will always hold a special place in my heart, and when I say this, I say it with my heart: Joining the District Board has been a life changing experience. It has shown me the best side of my generation and has made me more motivated than ever to do good for the world. I met so many new people and made so many new friends at Camp Wawbeek.
Key Club has given me so many opportunities and experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. I’ve become a better public speaker; I’ve made so many new friends; and have an affinity for doing service. I usually reject the idea of fate, but I am certain that Key Club and I were meant to be together.