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What LAGS Means to Me

Updated: Jan 11

Louisiana Girls State is a life-changing experience that will force you out of your comfort zone and give you a new definition of friendship – if you let it. Being a LAGS citizen and counselor are two of the most formative experiences of my life, and I almost did not get them.

My high school originally did not choose me to go to LAGS, but I had heard so many amazing things about the program. So, I called one of the directors myself and asked how I could attend. I was determined to attend the program because I knew it was right up my alley. I received a call one week before the program notifying me that I could go in the place of a girl from another school. LAGS then taught me my first lesson: never give up on something you believe you are destined to do/be. If you know in your gut that it is meant for you, it will happen.

As a citizen, I met countless girls I am still friends with almost four years later. As a self-proclaimed outgoing personality, meeting 49 new faces was quite the challenge, but the chants and the forced two-by-twos made it fairly easy. My newfound friends were fierce, and I learned lesson number two: it is okay to step back and be the encourager. As someone who loved the spotlight, a week at LAGS gave me the freedom to take on the new sense of a quiet leader without having to force a leadership style I was not always comfortable with. My fellow citizens also brought out a creative and goofy side I thought I had once lost. Lastly, my citizen year taught me to take a leap of faith even when you are scared because it is probably what you need most.

Transitioning to a LAGS counselor was one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking experiences. I unashamedly admit that the counselor role felt like the first real leadership position I had ever held, despite the countless experiences I pieced together on my resume. My counselor week taught me to function on very little sleep and to actually count by fours, as well as lesson number three: lean on those around you because you will be even more confident than you could on your own. My co-CCs and PC were my rocks throughout the week, and I did not make a single decision without consulting them first. I realized that it was okay to not know all of the answers and I did not have to pretend to know I them. Again, I formed friendships I still have to today with women who inspire me in every aspect of life.

If you are reading this and feel lost in your high school or college career, please know that you are not alone. I felt trapped in high school, and LAGS gave me an outlet I still cherish to this day. I am so thankful for the program and all that it does for rising young women in Louisiana. I fierce fully believe that Louisiana Girls State cultivates Louisiana and the United States’ best leaders.

Finally, LAGS taught me lesson number four: treasure what is and be thankful for what was. I am still learning this lesson daily as I treasure the last semesters of my college career and give thanks for the experiences that brought me where I am today.

I hope everyone gets a sliver in their lifetime of what LAGS gave me.

Emily Wood

Citizen 2017

Counselor 2018-Present

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