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ICYMI: Nearly 500 Students Attend Rep. Graves’ Fifth Annual Youth Leadership Summit

Washington, November 5, 2018 - Nearly 500 students participated in Rep. Tom Graves’ (R-GA-14) fifth annual Youth Leadership Summit in Dalton on Tuesday, October 30. The students were high school sophomores, juniors and seniors from 25 schools from across the 14th Congressional District, each of whom was recommended to attend the event by their teachers and school administrators.

(Click HERE to download this group photo)

As these students prepare to enter higher education or the workforce, the forum provided them with an opportunity to learn from and engage with leaders known for their success and service.

Besides Rep. Graves, this year’s speakers included NASA astronaut and retired Air Force Colonel Eric Boe as well as beauty expert, spokesmodel and TV Host Canicka Cabarras.

The first speaker of the conference, astronaut Eric Boe, encouraged students to follow their passions, explaining, “the first thing you have to do is be able to dream it.” He encouraged students to talk to all kinds of different people to learn about the various types of opportunities that exist for them.

Following Eric Boe’s presentation, Rep. Graves moderated a panel of Youth Leadership Summit alumni, who are now in college or working professionally. The three panelists, Hannah Payne, Sam Dindoffer and Tylis Green, spoke about how the Youth Leadership Summit they attended helped shape them as they transitioned from high school to the next phase of their lives.

A 2015 and 2016 alumnus of the Youth Leadership Summit, Hannah is now a student at the University of Georgia and vice chair of Young Americans for Freedom. Sam Dindoffer is a 2016 alumnus of the Youth Leadership Summit, who is now a student at Kennesaw State University and an intern for state Senator Chuck Payne. Tylis Green is also a 2016 alumnus of the Youth Leadership Summit and now works as a photographer for WTVC NewsChannel 9 as well as media director at River of Life Church in Rossville.

After the panel, Rep. Graves took the stage and inspired students by speaking about his remarkable life journey. “My story is going from the halls of a single wide trailer to the halls of Congress,” explained Rep. Graves.

“Don’t let your circumstances limit you,” he implored the students before encouraging them to dream big, work hard and achieve much – a motto he follows in his own life.

(Click HERE to download the high-resolution photo of Rep. Graves speaking at the Youth Leadership Summit)

“My message is simple: Dream as big as you can dream, work as hard as you can work and then you will achieve much,” said Rep. Graves. “You should never allow discouragement or doubt get in the way of achieving your dream.”

The last speaker of the day, Canicka Cabarras, described how a bullying incident in high school led her to create Beauty Billionaires, which is a movement inspiring young people to own their inner beauty, find their purpose and to accomplish what they believe in. “That moment led to me creating Beauty Billionaires – a global movement where I now help and coach people of all ages to live out their purpose.”

Between presentations, students were encouraged to meet their peers and expand their networks. Breaking from the daily norms of the classroom, students were also encouraged to use their phones to take photos and post about the Summit on social media sites.

Using the hashtag #GA14YLS, the event generated significant engagement on social media platforms, especially Instagram and Twitter. One student posted a photo with the caption, “#GA14YLS thanks Tom Graves for this opportunity!”

Another student posted a picture on Twitter with Astronaut Eric Boe, declaring in all capital letters: “I JUST GOT A PICTURE WITH A REAL LIFE ASTRONAUT #GA14YLS”

After the event Dalton Public Schools tweeted: “DHS Student Council and MIHS FBLA had an awesome time at the #GA14YLS Youth Leadership Summit on Tuesday, hosted by @RepTomGraves, and even got to meet Astronaut Eric Boe! Read more about the event on our blog.”

Also participating in the Summit were 20 student ambassadors from Dalton High School, Coahulla High School, Christian Heritage High School and Northwest Whitfield High School. The ambassadors served as all-purpose volunteers who arrived early to set up, assisted with the smooth operation of the event and stayed late to clean up.

The following schools participated in this year’s Youth Leadership Summit:
  • Academy At Double H Ranch
  • Armuchee High                                         
  • Calhoun High                        
  • Canaanland Christian  
  • Cedartown High                   
  • Chattooga High                 
  • Christian Heritage                
  • Coahulla Creek High   
  • Dade High                              
  • Dalton High                          
  • Gordon Lee High                  
  • Grace Christian Academy     
  • Heritage High                       
  • LaFayette High            
  • Morris Innovative High        
  • Murray County High            
  • North Murray High      
  • Northwest Whitfield High
  • Oakwood Christian Academy
  • Ridgeland High           
  • Ringgold High                      
  • Rome High                            
  • Sonoraville High                    
  • Trion High                   
  • Unity Christian School           



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