West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, created the Honorary Secretary of State program to recognize high school students for their efforts to register to vote their peers. Inspire WV Leader, Madison Settle, was recently selected. Read about her experience.
My name is Madison Settle, and I am a big sister, a book worm, a baker, an actress, and an Inspire leader at Charleston Catholic High School. Why did I decide to take on this commitment during my senior year, possibly the busiest time of my life to date? It is fairly simple- I love West Virginia, I believe in its people and their spirit.
We certainly have our problems, namely a poor economy, that ricochets into poor education, poor health, and a poor reputation nationally. All of these things can be fixed if we only have the courage to try. I greatly appreciate the work of our current lawmakers, but it is extremely important to acknowledge that real change, positive or negative, will come from our generation. In short, I joined Inspire to start now.
Andrew Willis is my partner in this project and I have to pause for a second to acknowledge how much I deeply appreciate his work ethic and his friendship. Our team is a perfect balance, as he is the extrovert to my introvert, the voice to my writer/planner, and the bold and daring to my shy and careful. This balance truly makes non-partisanship possible as he is quite liberal while I lean slightly toward conservatism, yet we are both equally passionate about this project and the importance of voting in our nation. The goal of Inspire has nothing to do with who people vote for, only that they get out and vote, after all. If the compromise that we achieve is any indication of what our generation will be like in government positions, things just might run smoothly when our time comes.
During our day at the legislature, I was named an Honorary Secretary of State. It meant a great deal to me to be acknowledged among so many people that I have come to know and respect since our Leadership Academy last summer, where all of us bonded over shared interests and experiences, from enjoying the arts to being relegated to the sweaty, dark cabin away from the lodge. My fellow leaders are the reason that I hold strongly to my belief that progress and hope lie ahead rather than behind. Another reason that I cherished this accolade was because it made me feel like I am following in the footsteps of my mother, someone who I admire more than words can convey. She is the CEO of West Virginia Health Right, a nonprofit organization that provides healthcare to the many West Virginians without adequate medical coverage, so she spends many days at the capitol lobbying for those afflicted with unspeakable burdens. I will never be able to hold a candle to her courage, her ambition, or her unselfish love for the community, but this honor made me feel like I’m on my way. For the rest of my life, I will remember her constant call to speak for the people who no one seems to hear.
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Secretary Warner and his team. I admire every single one of them for their diligence, their patience, and their willingness to put themselves out there. I honestly can’t wait to see what a day in their office is like, even if it is just another day at work to them. I’m looking forward to observing and absorbing the skill-set that political work requires and using the experience to propel me forward into college and beyond. Secretary Warner’s willingness to respect and involve youth in his efforts says a lot about his character and about our state. Great people live here and they are fighting everyday to make our home a better place. As long as that is true, nothing and no one can destroy us. In the words of Bernard Williams, “There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.”
Madison and Andrew have registered to vote 100% of the 2016 senior class at Charleston Catholic High School.