Noem holds Second Annual Lead Now! Youth Leadership Conference

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Representative Kristi Noem was in Rapid City Wednesday, hosting her Second Annual Lead Now! Youth Leadership Conference, all to help high school students see their potential and think about their future.

Rep. Kristi Noem says, "The one thing I want kids to leave here with today is that they're leaders right where they are. Many of them might have the perception that they have to wait to fill a leadership position in the future, and right where they are in their communities and their schools they can step up and be leaders and be examples to the kids that are around them as well."

Representative Kristi Noem is spreading a message about leadership.
Her Second Annual Lead Now! Youth Leadership Conference on Wednesday gave high school students the opportunity to hear from leaders from all across the state.

Noem says, "It's just been a great opportunity for them to hear from people who have maybe gone through some hard times or challenges, started with absolutely nothing, but yet saw an opportunity to step forward and serve others and ended up being very strong leaders for our entire state."

Speakers included Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker, the president of Click Rain, Mrs. South Dakota International 2015, the Commander of the 28th Bomb Wing, the president of Black Hills State University and Dr. Heather Wilson, the president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.

SDSM&T President Dr. Heather Wilson says, "I talked to them a little bit about finding a dream that's bigger than themselves and then getting a great education to take themselves there, not being afraid of barriers, like telling themselves things that they can't do, but by turning those into things they can do."

And both Dr. Wilson and Noem agree, it's often failure that gets you one step closer to success and that good leaders keep trying, even after failing.

Noem says, "They maybe think they don't have the ability to be somebody who's leading or setting an example for others. I know I was one of those. I had a very poor self esteem when I was in high school, and it was because other people took the time to invest in me that I had the opportunity one day to step up and have the confidence and maybe give my first speech, or be willing to be a team leader in an activity, and I think lots of these kids don't realize that all of us start not thinking we can do the jobs that we do."

Wilson says, "I think a lot of students when they're in high school, they have dreams that are fairly short–term, and maybe they aren't big enough dreams. And so we want people to start reaching beyond their grasp, and then they'll surprise themselves when they realize they can do more than they ever thought they could."

And that message stuck with one student from Little Wound High School.

Morgan Mesteth says, "All of these successful people, it didn't matter where they came from or anything, and they became really successful just by following their dreams and doing what they believe in and stuff. And it gives me a lot of motivation to go and do that, because, you know, I'm from the Pine Ridge Reservation and the college graduate rate is like 5 percent, and it's one of the nation's lowest percentages, and it makes me feel like I can go off and do something as well."

Students also heard from leaders in the tech world and how to use social media appropriately.