My daughter Julia is my hero.
She fought back.
She logged 700 volunteer hours to get to this place.
And I couldn’t be more proud.
Last year, she schooled at home, but last summer she decided to return to Rockwall High School. Though the culinary arts program was filled, I took a chance and contacted Chef Hayes directly. He met with Julia and me, and graciously welcomed her into the program.
When the time came to try out for either the restaurant management team or the culinary team, she stepped out and tried for the restaurant team. And she got in. Thus began a long sojourn that lasted from October to now, where she stayed after school until 9 PM every school night, and logged several hours on weekends and holidays.
The concept her team pursued? Pop City, USA, an ice-pop restaurant. Here’s their concept board:
Impressed? I was.
They competed like you would on Shark Tank, where the team of four did an oral presentation (ten minutes, but they could NOT go over), shared a very large notebook/prospectus, were faced with critical thinking questions by the judges, and presented their board. At regional competition, they won. At state, they placed third (from the entire state of Texas).
Here they (Dev, Julia, Milana and Wesley) are before announcements (in blue shirts):
What was hard: Rockwall won state last year, then won nationals. So the pressure on this team was extremely tense. High expectations. Lots of difficult questions by the judges.
I felt the weight of third place (though of course it is to be celebrated) when my strong, confident, amazing daughter fell to tears. So many hours of work. So much of herself poured into that effort. So much leadership she provided. So many tears of exhaustion. So much relational strength. Such grit. (Here’s Julia on the right).
On the way home from the competition, Patrick and I listened to a podcast about students who succeed. IQ was not a predictor. Neither was economic status or stability of the family. The number one predictor was GRIT. They defined it as students who took hits but kept on going. The word resilience played in. Simply put, grit means you don’t give up when obstacles push against you (sometimes violently). You grit your teeth and keep taking the next step.
That is Julia.
She is grit.
And whether she placed third or first or not at all, she has demonstrated that she will succeed in this life. The grit she demonstrated is what makes her my hero. From two years ago with an illness, to staying home a year, to diving into high school with fervor, to competing at the highest level, she astounds me.
Would you help me in congratulating Julia by leaving an encouraging comment? 700 hours is a heck of a lot of time to invest in something, even for an adult. Understandably, she is tired (so tired) and disappointed, but she is also resilient. And we are proud.
Go, grit girl. Go.