Posted Pamela Young on 3/17/2015 |Featured Columns & Series
This year, Girls on the Run will serve its one-millionth girl! We’re honoring this milestone by celebrating what makes each of us one in a million and by showcasing some one-in-a-million women who have made exceptional contributions to empowering girls and women.
In this Q&A we're changing it up a little to hear from a recent Girls on the Run participant, 12-year-old Kristen Alexis Snyder.
Kristen participated in Girls on the Run in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the 4th grade. Now in 7th grade, Kristen puts her heart into all her interests, which cover the bases from academics to music to her passion for ballet. She will be attending a two-week forensic science lab at Chatham Hall college preparatory school in Virginia this summer. She holds first chair in band for french horn, is an elected student council representative and studies dance at Charlotte Ballet Academy.
Here’s what Kristen has to share about being one in a million.
Q: Girls on the Run envisions a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams! How did you start to realize your own limitless potential and pursue the path to where you are today?
Kristen: I am twelve years old and have been doing ballet for the past eight years. Ballet can be very difficult, and it took some time before I began to love it. I have had some challenging times. I am not as flexible as dancers strive to be, but I have grown confident in my pointe class, and I focus on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. I knew I wanted to dance, but never considered dancing professionally until last summer. During a summer intensive program at the ballet academy, I learned a dance from one of my favorite teachers, Katie Mayo. She demonstrated her commitment and belief in me by staying after class to help me (which was a special privilege). When I performed the dance, as I turned my last turn, I knew that I had it down! The people that watched even clapped for me! Afterward, the best girl in the class came up to me and said, "Good job!" That is when I learned that in the moments you succeed by doing your best, all the bad moments disappear!
Q: Of the traits and achievements that help make you one-in-a-million, what stands out most to you?
Kristen: Perseverance would be the trait that most stands out to me. My parents have always spoken to me about running the long race and not giving up. After all, it is the journey and not the destination that defines us. Many times I have been put in the back of a class or been the last picked. If I had given up, I would have missed the times my perseverance was rewarded. For example, last year my science teacher awarded me a scholarship to a special summer science lab at Chatham Hall because of my enthusiasm and positivity in his class. I was thrilled! Always surround yourself with positive people as well. Every successful person was a dreamer once who had someone that believed in them!
Q: Girls on the Run believes that big things are possible when you keep moving forward. One of the ways our girls experience that is when they cross the finish line at the 5k that celebrates their completion of the program. Can you share an example from your own life?
Kristen: Running the Girls on the Run 5k and crossing the finish line was one of the most magical moments of my life. It was very hard to train for the run because I have asthma and had not run very much prior to the event. At practice, my teacher and Girls on the Run coach, Ms. Somers, would run beside me and talk to me to help me prepare—keeping my mind off the long distance. Before long, I was ready to run the 5k. During the run, Ms. Somers, her daughter and my dad ran beside me the entire way, encouraging me to keep moving when I wanted to stop. People stood along the route and cheered us on while we ran through the streets. This encouragement helped me keep going. When I saw the finish line, I could not feel my legs but still ran so fast that I jumped across it! I was so happy that I finished the run and grateful for all of the support and encouragement from everyone along the way.
Q: Which one of the core values of Girls on the Run resonates most with you and why?
Kristen: I think that we should embrace our differences and find strength in our connectedness. This is an important value. I believe God made you who you are, and if you are not as fast or are not able to do whatever your other friends do—that’s okay. We are all unique! Instead of comparing yourself to someone you perceive as better than you, be happy for that person and most of the time, they will be happy in return. The two of you can grow together and bring out the best in one another.
Q: What insight or advice would you offer another young girl today?
Kristen: I would tell a young girl today to carry on when things are hard, and to never give up. I would also ask her to read a book that encouraged me entitled, Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. It is about a girl who overcomes huge struggles and finds her voice. The protagonist, Melody Brooks, became a true hero and role model for me.
What makes you One in a Million? Current Girls on the Run participants can answer this question to enter our "What Makes You One in a Million?" contest. Three winners will receive $250 for themselves and their local council.