A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking with the 2018 Sauk Rapids Community Ambassador candidates about character, kindness and leadership. In addition to meeting the current candidates, I was introduced to a delightful young woman named Brooklyn, who was just completing her term as a Sauk Rapids Community Ambassador and is currently preparing to compete in the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador Program in mid-July.
I was immediately drawn in by Brooklyn’s kind smile and welcoming demeanor. She clearly understands what it means to represent a community and to lead with grace, elegance and confidence. I’m thrilled that she agreed to be this week’s #RealLifeWonderWoman. Please read on and get to know Brooklyn Harren!
KR: Hi Brooklyn! I know you are a current college student. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your future plans?
BH: I just finished my first year of college at the St. Cloud Technical College where I finished my generals. Next year I’ll be attending a 4-year university to double major in English and education. I plan to become a teacher and a coach, eventually working my way into an administrative position or becoming an athletic director. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading and writing, and being outside or playing sports.
I am a dreamer by nature and some of my dreams include, but are not limited to, student teaching in a different country, joining the Peace Corps, and becoming an author. This past year I was offered a couple of coaching positions at both the elementary and middle school level. I have a newfound passion for sharing my love of sports with the children. Coaching was the most rewarding job I have had! I was able to be a role model as well as teach the children some life lessons along the way. Helping others and being a good role model brings so much joy and fulfillment to my life.
KR: You’ve had quite a year representing the community as an Ambassador. How did you become involved in the Sauk Rapids Ambassador program and what has this experience taught you?
BH: I decided to become involved in the Sauk Rapids Ambassador program because I was inspired by a friend to try it out. If I reflect back on how I was a year ago today, I was shy around other people, and scared to step out of my comfort zone. I grew close to the girls that I was competing against during my candidacy and I knew that the scores were going to be close. During the pageant, I felt like throughout my interview, my fishbowl question, and my evening gown walk, I was just being myself. I wasn’t confident enough at the time to think that in the end just being me was going to be good enough. When we were lined up across the stage I mentally prepared myself to lose. I was crowned first and I knew the moment my crown was on my head that I was in for a year of a lifetime.
Throughout this year I have grown substantially. I set 3 personal goals to accomplish during my year as an ambassador: get more involved within my community, be a role model to the youth of Sauk Rapids, and travel to other cities to show other towns what the great town of Sauk Rapids stands for (and where it is on a map). I accomplished all 3 of these goals by getting an internship through city hall, and by volunteering with the Lion’s Club to be more involved in my community; volunteering in the elementary and preschools within Sauk Rapids to become a role model of the youth in Sauk Rapids; and I have traveled to many other towns’ festivals to celebrate with them, build relationships with them as well as teach them what Sauk Rapids is all about. I have built many strong bonds with girls from other towns who I would not have met if it weren’t for this opportunity.
It is very bittersweet that my year of a lifetime is coming to an end but I have grown and learned so much that I will hold with me forever. I have taught myself to be confident and own who I am. I have learned how big of an impact just one smile or one wave has on someone else’s life. My favorite part of this journey was being a role model for all of the little girls that I would come in contact with, and teaching them that they can be a princess every day, with or without a crown on.
KR: Can you tell us about an influential woman in your life and how she inspired you?
BH: Throughout my year as Sauk Rapids Ambassador I got to meet many inspiring and strong women, but there is one in particular that inspires me every day. Her name is Kylie, she is an elementary school student in the Sauk Rapids district. At her young age, she has impacted so many lives already. Her mom was my first-grade teacher and she is a cancer survivor. Kylie’s aunt was also diagnosed with cancer, unfortunately it was an aggressive case in which she lost her battle this past year. Kylie is a beautiful, fun-loving and kind-hearted girl who never fails to make someone smile every day. At her young age, she has already started her own campaign and fundraiser to raise money for cancer. Her slogan is “no one fights alone”, and she puts on an annual lemonade stand full of treats and festivities to raise money for those who still have to fight cancer. I have gotten the opportunity to volunteer at her lemonade stand and run into her at a couple of cancer walks along my journey as a Sauk Rapids Ambassador. She has taught me that anything is possible when you have the strong enough will to accomplish it, as well as how to just have fun with life no matter what it throws at you. This little girl is so strong and has already been through too much, but she is taking all her strength she has gained from these unfortunate events and using it to have a positive impact on the lives of others. She inspires me every day to defy the odds, be confident in who I am, and be positive no matter what is happening in my life.
KR: Like Wonder Woman, we all possess inner superpowers. As women, I believe it is so important that we identify and celebrate them. Brooklyn, what are some of your superpowers?
BH: I am strong willed and I will accomplish anything that I put my mind to. I am smart and I have a huge heart for others. I have good communication skills and I hold a strong belief that acknowledging others is very important. I am respectful, responsible and reliable. I am fun-loving and I love to make someone else’s day brighter with just a simple smile.