From Las Vegas, meet Nevada Student State Rep Shaun, Be Strong’s July 2019 Student of the Month!
“Never underestimate the power of a simple smile!”
Years ago, in middle school, Shaun had feelings familiar to entirely too many youth – anxiety, isolation, even feeling invisible. Transitioning into high school, he realized that doing kind things for others made him feel better. Whether simply saying hello, opening doors for others, or speaking an encouraging word, selflessness paved the way for Shaun’s true self.
During his junior year of high school, a teacher, Ms. Ashlee VanEss nominated Shaun to become a Be Strong Student State Rep and foster kindness within the school community. Knowing what it’s like to feel all alone, Shaun couldn’t let anyone else feel the same.
With Be Strong and some likeminded friends, he founded an inclusion club, We Dine Together, on campus to make sure no one else felt unseen or alone. The group unites the school through acts of kindness, overtaking it like a wave.
“I will be kind even when the world is against me. I will have kindness even when there is darkness in my life. I’ll show kindness to those who need it the most.”
Nearing the end of his senior year, Shaun was one of four students nominated to be prom king. Contrary to custom, he immediately requested to be removed from the list — offering his spot on the prom court to a friend, Edgar.
Edgar, who is on the autism spectrum, accepted. Shaun and Edgar had become good friends over the last couple years, since meeting in student council.
“He puts himself out there so much,” Shaun said of Edgar, noting that Edgar approaches each table at lunch to say hi to everyone.
Conversations about who would be named prom king were the talk of the school. Shaun said he gave up his spot for a friend because he understands what it’s like to feel different. “I wanted him to win from the beginning,” said Shaun.
Prom night proved to be very exciting. Edgar won, accepting his crown as his peers cheered and chanted his name.
Shaun and Edgar’s story reminds us all that — while we may not be in a position to crown someone — we are all uniquely positioned to treat each other like royalty!
Click here to nominate your inspiring student for Be Strong’s Student State Representative program and We Dine Together initiative.