For Alexandria "Lexie" Brewer, it was almost too phenomenal to be real.
One day in checking her email and filling out applications for college, the Camdenton senior received an email inviting her to the upcoming presidential inauguration and LeadAmerica's Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit in conjunction with the event Jan. 18-22, 2013.
"I was here at Starbucks one night, finishing up an application for Columbia College in New York. I pulled up my email and the subject line read, "You have been invited to the Presidential Inauguration.' I was like, "No way. This is too good to be true,'" she said. "Then, I got the formal invitation in the mail, as well. I checked with my counselors at school and they all, "No, this is real.'"
In fact, after Brewer's mom, Staci, and her stepfather, Steve Brown, did some research they found Brewer has been the only Lake Area student among Osage, Eldon and Camdenton schools to be invited as part of this historic event and tremendous five-day trip and leadership program.
"I called the Eldon and Osage and talked with the counselors at Camdenton and none of them had any students that were invited this year to attend," Steve said. "Most of the counselors said this is the first time they've had a student invited to this special event."
Brewer is so excited for the opportunity for her "Alexandria to Alexandria" trip as her family is calling it and sees it as an opportunity for the already bright, community involved Brewer to gain even more experience toward her chosen career path in international relations. In hopes to plan some local fundraisers and setting up a special donations account to go toward the roughly $3,000 trip, the family is also encouraged they can raise the funds and make sure their daughter and future leader attends this once in a lifetime opportunity.
"This opportunity is so perfect. It is a rare opportunity and one that is important for U.S. history, but it is also important for me as an individual. This is a pivotal point in a person's life - my senior year, trying to get into college - but it is something that I directly want to go into," Brewer explained. "I want to go into international relations and international politics. There are specific classes at this inauguration leadership summit that deal cover that. I think it is a crazy coincidence and would love the opportunity to attend."
A born leader
For Brewer, humanistic activism and community involvement are instincts she has held from a young age. Staci recalled one time when she was a small child and saw their neighbor chopping down a tree in his own yard.
"She went after him about chopping down that tree," she said with a laugh. "I told her, "It's his yard, Lex, but I am right here behind you.' He said, "What am I supposed to do here.' I said, "Well, just listen to her.'"
Her passion for helping the environment and other community involvement duties expanded over the years while living in Kentucky with her mother, stepfather, older brother and stepsister. Her siblings have also gone on to pursue goals as her stepsister is attending culinary school and her brother is hoping to gain a career in the video game engineering field. However, for Brewer, her involvement in charitable and community services continue both in her high school and at-home involvements.
"Lexie is the only child who will ever get in trouble for recycling. One summer, she went up to Kansas City to visit her grandparents for awhile and we had told her to take it easy on the plastic bottle recycling at home," Steve explained. "Mom went into clean out her closet and she found all the plastic bottles in there she had been recycling. Lexie is the only child I've ever known that will get into trouble for doing something good."
That good streak has led Brewer to hold some hefty service projects, leadership roles and experiences throughout her young life that are a large part of why she was invited to the LeadAmerica's Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit and actual presidential inauguration.
Now at Camdenton High School, Brewer achieved a lofty goal in receiving the Outstanding Community Service Award for completing 195 hours during her junior year. She has volunteered as the booth manager controlling the lights with Releve Dance Academy, helped with the Habitat for Humanity, did missionary work for the Salvation Army, trained with Ellis & Associates and the American Red Cross, becoming certified as a lifeguard and additional training, and performed a bible study with her church. In addition, Brewer is in choir, served as an athlete on the track team and is captain of the cross country team.
Brewer also is part of the IB (International Baccalaureate program) and the public relations manager for the National Honor Society at Camdenton. She said he had a 3.75 GPA (grade point average) to be inducted and has maintained that to remain in the organization. She is obtaining 20 community service hours and earning 12 club points, as well. Part of her community service for this group, Brewer volunteered for the Dogwood Animal Shelter and at Windsor Estates Nursing Home. She is also running a food drive for Helping Hands Homeless Shelter, as well.
Brewer was able to expand her leadership abilities outside of school, being invited to the Missouri Leadership Academy in Mexico, where she learned about different qualities of a leader and leadership personalities.
"The leadership personalities part allowed us to look at different traits of a leader and find out what color we represent, which is cool," she said. "I am green, which is one of the more rare ones. Almost all of the presidents are all green, except two were blue."
Brewer also was able to participate as an intern for the Democratic Party during the last election, canvassing for Sen. Claire McCaskill and learning about the election process.
"Alexandria to Alexandria'
Now, Brewer hopes to make it to Alexandria, Va., where she will be lodging and experiencing the LeadAmerica's Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit provided seminars and courses.
According to the organization's website, LeadAmerica, one of the nation's educational leaders in personalized experiential learning, offers outstanding, high-achieving high school and middle school students the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge and the experience of real college life while they explore their future path and discover what inspires them most. LeadAmerica partners and collaborates with some of the top colleges and universities throughout the United States to offer college immersion programs designed to better prepare these students academically and emotionally for the transition to college life and beyond. Its mission is to build a more globally competitive America with college-bound students. LeadAmerica high school conferences are college-accredited, and all curriculum has been approved by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) for the seventh consecutive year, the website stated.
LeadAmerica's Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit, held during the Presidential Inauguration, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Held only every four years, the organization takes selected students to our nation's capital during this historic time, the event's website stated.
Students attending this conference will witness the swearing in of the next President of the United States and listen while he gives his Presidential Address. The excitement continues as students take on the roles of leaders in the 21st century and face issues of the United States. According to the event's website, students will examine the leadership skills required to effectively construct the future and empower themselves to emerge as influential voices at the community, state, and federal level.
For Brewer, the choice between three 21st Century workshops was an easy pick. There is a whole sector on international relations, which is what she would like to pursue in the future. This set of three workshops includes topics covering human rights, new media and 21st Century journalism and diplomatic challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century. For the second set of "Transformational Leadership workshops," Brewer is still debating on which ones she would like to attend. However, her passions are helping her lead her choices.
"I think the community service project would be cool. The "Arts as a Vehicle for Social Change' also sounds great. Music can transform not only moods but also how it is a message platform. You can listen to it without getting offended. I would like to hear what they say on that," she said. "Also, "Social Media and the Common Good' sounds interesting. I think the world is changing to more social media aspects. Plus, that is one of our categories in IB that we have to deal with in our Spanish class. We have the "Fab Five,' and social media is one of the categories we can use for our oral presentations. I hope I can incorporate any of that knowledge into my speech."
In addition the Leadership Summit courses, Brewer gets to attend a special Inaugural Ball, listen to keynote speaker Colin Powell, and take time exploring the many sights of Washington D.C. including the Jefferson Memorial, World War II Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
For Brewer's parents, they hope to pursue a financial assistance option to help cover the $2,795 that encompasses everything included in the trip such as the sight-seeing, seminars, ball, viewing of the presidential inauguration at National Mall, food, etc. However, they are also hoping to hold some fundraisers locally and have set up a purely charitable bank account titled, "Alexandria to Alexandria," at First National Bank. This way, if anyone in the community would like to contribute to the cause, they know the money is strictly going toward Brewer's special Leadership Summit. Donations can be made at any First National Bank branch in the Lake Area.
"We have to make our first deposit to reserve her spot by Dec. 1 at $1,000. We have to pay in full by Dec. 15," Steve added. "We really hope we can get the financial aid assistance through the LeadAmerica program and hopefully additional help from the community if we can."
For Brewer, her responsible pursuits in community service and higher education are already in place. She is a Quest Bridge finalist. This organization allows low-income, high-achieving students through its National Match program to pay for application fees to partnering colleges and if accepted, pay for full tuition and boarding. She has applied to many schools, being accepted to Drury University and in hopes to attend University of Illinois in Chicago, which has a highly accredited liberal arts and international relations program.
This experience is another stepping stone for Brewer, and she hopes she can attend the momentous event in her young life and in the U.S. overall.
"I would like to be a foreign ambassador or diplomat. Or I also think it would be cool to be the head of a not-for-profit of international organization that fights hunger or something like that which would appease my humanistic approach to life," she said. "I think just being there at the inauguration is going to be awesome. It is a part of history you are going to remember. I as a person am changing right now and I feel like doing this is a huge impact on me. I feel that experience is the best education."
For more information about the "Alexandria to Alexandria" charitable contribution account, stop by First National Bank. For additional information about the LeadAmerica Presidential Inaugural Leadership Summit, visit www.presidentialinauguration.com. For information about Brewer's trip, email Steve Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org or Staci at email@example.com.