How lucky I was to spend the first half of my Queen journey as a student at The Ohio State University.
I have grown a great deal as a result of the education I received here and I know I can attribute my study habits and interview skills to the countless opportunities I had at the university inside and outside of the classroom.
As I sit here at the end of my workday, I cannot help but reflect on how I graduated from college two months ago and how in another two months, my Queen rein will be over.
Back in college, with a real adult job looming in the horizon, I struggled to conceptualize how I could continue to stand out as Sara Elizabeth Laughlin once my time as a student was over.
Now, with Congress less than a hundred days away, I struggle with how I will continue to stand out as Sara Elizabeth Laughlin once my Congress Queen journey is over.
I'm feeling pretty nostalgic after visiting the state fair yesterday....
Because I met so many inspiring young riders, state fair queens and princesses, and families who once again proved to me how much of an impact equine and agriculture can have on a person's life.
Showing horses teaches individuals how to be humble and how to be kind. The importance of due diligence, perseverance, and commitment. A horse show provides the atmosphere for friendship, community, strong-willed competition, and confidence and character building.
I had the chance to speak to Ohio State's food, agricultural, and environmental sciences learning community this winter...
And they asked me what makes a Congress Queen candidate unique, stand out in an interview, and how my involvement with horses and the community prepared me for such a role.
I think we can all agree, that at some point we have all questioned whether we were "good enough". To win a class, to earn a title, to be a leader, to get a promotion, to get a job....
To make the cute boy that sits next to you in class like you.
And I admit that personally, there are days where I don't feel unique, or special, or shine among a crowd.
With this group, I talked about how I have struggled with all of these things until I went to a talk with one of Ohio State's business teachers that mentioned: like Kim Kardashian, we all have a personal brand and characteristics that others associate with us when they hear our name.
Hold the phone, are you telling me I am identical to Kim Kardashian?
No, not quite, but just like you feel a certain way when you hear her name, people feel a certain way when they think about you.
With the learning community we talked a lot about building our own brand, identifying what we value and what we are proud of, and reflecting on what we want others to say about us when asked "what do you think of _____."
And how often do we get the question in an interview, "so what makes you unique? Out of all of the other candidates, why should we pick you?"
Go beyond surface level qualities like working hard, being positive, or your desire to help people. Maybe you want to help people because you want to find a cure for cancer, or another life threatening illness. Perhaps your passion for saving shelter animals stems from the time you adopted a seven-year-old dog and gave him a good home.
Maybe you've overcome some type of challenge that has inspired you to give back. Maybe you express yourself through journaling, art, or music.
talk about the "why".
In two months I may not be Congress Queen anymore, but I know I have an irreplaceable education and many supporters that believe in my ability to make a mark in my community.
And I am surrounded by other queens and young riders who are unique in their passions which range from breeding horses, to medicine, to habitats for snakes, to providing hope and opportunity to equestrians with disabilities.
All of these characteristics live in us regardless of the title or job we hold.
And no matter where you are or what you are doing, what you are passionate about and what gets you out of bed everyday will always keep you unique.
We all have that special something about us. my question is, what do you want people to think when they hear about you?
Inspired by a conversation with Ohio State's Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Learning Community.