Congresswoman Johnson with the award recipients and sponsors from Saturday’s, Congressional Award Statewide Ceremony
On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Congresswoman Johnson hosted the 2017 Congressional Award Texas Ceremony for youth who have exhibited a willingness to voluntarily help others in the community, while reinforcing their own strengths in areas of personal development, physical fitness, and expedition/exploration in their communities. The event was held at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. This is the first time that the ceremony has been held in Dallas.
Dr. Michael J. Sorrell, President of Paul Quinn College, delivered the keynote address and offered an inspiring message about unity and servant leadership to the award recipients and all in attendance. “In this time and in this era we need leaders who understand that it is more important than ever to love something greater than yourself,” said Dr. Sorrell. “You are responsible for leading those who agree with you, and those who don’t agree with you. If you are going to stand up and hold yourself out to be a leader, then you are doing it not just for the group who sits next to you, you are doing it for those people you may never meet, that you may never see, who exist in neighborhoods that you may never travel, but they need you too.”
Before the presentation of medals and certificates, Congresswoman Johnson spoke directly to the award recipients on stage. In her remarks she encouraged each of the young men and women to not limit themselves with labels, and challenged them to overcome every obstacle and any circumstance.
“Let me assure you, you can start from anywhere, and work to get to any place you want to get to, and this nation offers that opportunity,” said Congresswoman Johnson. “You have to make the most of your opportunities and the opportunities are there.
I applaud you for coming this far and I applaud you for loving your country enough to do something positive. But I challenge you to love your country enough to give it your very best because it will be the results of your giving, that will determine how great this nation really is. You have a part to play, you have a responsibility.”
The Congressional Award is promoted throughout the country by Members of the House who share with their constituents a unique opportunity to provide today’s youth with the tools they need to thrive as adults. It is the United States Congress’ first and only award specifically for young Americans between ages 14 to 23. The award is non-partisan, voluntary, non-competitive, and accommodates young people with special needs or disabilities who are willing to take the challenge. Participants earn Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Certificates and Bronze, Silver, and Gold Congressional Award Medals. Each level involves setting goals in four program areas: Voluntary Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness, and Expedition/Exploration.