It’s with a touch of sadness that I post Izzie’s last story for the Student Success blog. I don’t know that she realizes how much she’s taught me over these last few months and how much I’ve come to admire her. All of us at the Student Success Initiative and the Blandin Foundation wish you well, Izzie!

Elizabeth "Izzie" Olson

Elizabeth “Izzie” Olson is a poet, singer, writer, future nurse practitioner and preparing to graduate from high school.

Success is defined as a favorable or satisfactory outcome. But to an individual, success can mean so much more. Last year, during the November TEDxYouth@1000Lakes event I participated in, one of my fellow speakers stood out. I am very proud to have my last article for the Itasca Area Initiative for Student Success about this unique individual.

Luke Kingsbury attends Nashwauk-Keewatin High School. As a junior in high school, he already knows what he wants as a future career. “I see myself as an English teacher, a published writer, and living somewhere in the U.K.”  When asked if he was on track, he responded “Yes, I definitely would think so.”

When I asked Luke about experiences growing up, he gave a very intriguing response: “I didn’t have very many friends, but the ones I had were TRUE friends, and are still around to this day.”

Luke Kingsbury

Luke Kingsbury is a junior at Nashwauk-Keewatin High School, and sees himself as an English teacher, a published writer, and living somewhere in the U.K.

I asked Luke if he felt accepted as an individual. “Not necessarily. I am different, so that makes me a target for others to…not exactly bully me….but to pick on me,” he said. I can understand such feelings since I had similar situations in my life. When first meeting Luke last fall, he was very kind and took me under his wing. I was so nervous being in a room full of people I didn’t know, but Luke was there and helped me process.

Whitney Willard, whom I interviewed last month, shared her views of Luke.  “I think he is very mature and I see him going far in his life because of his views of the world.”  I would have to agree with Whitney’s statement.  Even though I have not known him as long, Luke’s TEDxYouth@1000Lakes talk left an impression on how I see things and I strive to be a better individual because of it.

It has been a great experience to work with the Blandin Foundation this past year. Knowing that this will be my last article makes me feel a little somber. I hope others will be able to share, as I have, the success of those who are unaware of all their accomplishments. I also hope that my writing has been a catalyst for young people to be inspired to follow their passions. Farewell.