By Taryn Gillespie
Melinda Dome/Collegian
Sometimes opportunities come to you in unexpected ways.

Taking those opportunities even if they don’t seem like something you would usually do or want to do can help you gain experience and meet many new people in the process.

Also many of these opportunities can look good on a college or job application. Not taking advantage of these opportunities can leave you with less experience and fewer opportunities offered in the future.

For me this really has come into play with many of the opportunities I have been offered.

One of these opportunities led me to get to see more of the world than I expected to get to see.

I was asked to be involved in a group called YMAD, Youth Making A Difference, a youth philanthropy group based in Pratt, Kansas, working to engage high school students in learning the grant making process.

For the past 12 years, 114 high school students have gone through the YMAD program, inviting grant applications, reviewing documents and making nearly $250,000 in grants to a wide variety of charities.

I was added into this group when I was a freshman in high school because one of my teachers saw potential in me to be a good addition to the group.

Since then I have been a member for all four years of high school and was recently asked to take part in a big event opportunity for the group.

The group recently was awarded best youth philanthropy group in the nation and asked to come accept an award and speak at National Philanthropy Day in New York City.

Even though I had already graduated out of the group and had already started college, I was asked to tag along and speak at the event.

In November I flew to New York City for four days and had a great time seeing the city and meeting many new people.

I was fortunate enough to meet Lisa Borders, part of the senior leadership for Coca-Cola, while we accepted awards at the same time.

This opportunity helped me get my name out to many contacts for the future and helped me grow my network of contacts.

This opportunity is one I wouldn’t have had if I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity given to me to join the group, even though it meant some hard work on my part, including reviewing and memorizing all the grants and making a trip to Pratt every few weeks.

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