Teenagers and adults from all walks of life participate in our Futures Fund programs. Whether they want to pursue a career in technology or gain a new skill, each Tech Academy and Coding Boot Camp student has a bright and unique future ahead of them. This month, we caught up with Futures Fund Tech Academy alumna Kelsie Tillage.
In 2022, Kelsie earned the honorable Gold Medal Congressional Award. The prestigious accolade, awarded by the US Congress, is the highest honor a youth civilian can achieve through the US Senate and House of Representatives. The award recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in youth ages 14-24. Kelsie is one of Louisiana’s first high school students to receive the gold medal award.
Below she shares about her latest award, her time with Futures Fund and her plans for the future.
Tell me about your time with Futures Fund…
I spent three sessions at Futures Fund in the photography program.
How did Futures Fund help you in developing your skills?
The instructors were so knowledgeable and taught us about real-world skills. They taught about color, focus, how to capture moments, why and how often to take pictures. They also talked about their experience as professional photographers and if we wanted to take our skills to a paid level, that it’s possible. But the one thing I really developed was a perspective in life and that there’s simple beauty all around us.
What have you been working on since Futures Fund?
Besides being a high school student and taking dual enrollment classes, I play club and high school volleyball, hold leadership positions and volunteer in my community. I have launched an essay contest to publish an anthology, “UnPopular Opinions – The Other Side”. More information can be found on my website at www.kelsieania.com. I was inspired by being published in an anthology and love the idea of providing an outlet for others to express their opinions.
Tell me about winning the Gold Medal Congressional award...
I’m still trying to process that it happened. It is such an honor to receive an award that is a result of all of my hard work while in high school. It’s the highest honor for a civilian youth given by the US Senate and Congress. Also, only a few high schoolers in Louisiana have achieved the Gold Medal since its inception in 1979.
What were you awarded for?
My Gold Medal level [was awarded for having] over 400 volunteer service hours, 200 personal development hours, 200 physical fitness hours and 5 days of exploration.
What are your career goals?
In all honesty, I’m still trying to figure it out. I’m applying to college this Fall to various universities. I love working with kids and have a passion for reading.
Why are access to technology and STEM skills so important?
The future is driven by technology and I feel Future Funds provides a vehicle open to students who may not have those opportunities. Although STEM is not my interest, I value its importance and programming.