A Better Person from All Angles: 2012 Gold Medalist Drishti Lakhia
Drishti pauses for a photograph near the Taj Mahal
while visiting India for her Expedition/Exploration.
It’s not who I was, it’s who I am after developing myself with the support of the Congressional Award. I used to be carefree and careless, but after volunteering at a foster home, I now value my family and my home sweet home. I used to think money grew on trees, but after refereeing for basketball I realized it takes hard work and commitment, because nothing is free.
I used to think it’s my way or no way until I volunteered at the Red Cross. Knowing about the disasters individuals face, I have been more open to choose the right way. I used to feel I had no time for elders. After volunteering at the Masti Ghar Senior Citizens Club, I felt the happiness and priceless smiles I shared with the elderly.
I was good at art, but started to develop my personal interest in photography, scrapbooks, painting and celebrating my Sweet Sixteen with the artistic memories I created. I became even better at dance. “You’re amazing,” others commented when I performed, rewarding my physical fitness record book.
I explored India, where I was born, for my Exploration. I loved the nature, the architecture, the people, and the culture.
Thank you Congressional Award for helping me to be a better person from all angles. With the drive to earn the Congressional Award Gold Medal, my advisor’s support, my family’s support, my hard work, and God’s blessing, I blossomed into a better person. I hope and pray to continue this journey of life.
2012 Gold Medalist
Consider Me a Role Model: 2012 Gold Medalist Darryl Edward Gray
I have always been interested in bettering my community and being engaged with service, that is why prior to participating in the Congressional Award I completed 500 hours of service, by volunteering in my community and working with several local and national political campaigns since I was 10 years old. When I enrolled in the Congressional Award program I started working towards the required 400 hours to get the Congressional Award Gold Medal.
I volunteered for the local community by visiting the homeless shelter, senior home, working at the American Red Cross, and in my church. I am a person with a disability and I want people to know that with hard work anyone can be successful. I have become more confident and interested in learning new things and helping people. During the summers I volunteered to work at the American Red Cross for people with disabilities. I volunteered at the American Red Cross of Northern Virginia and was selected to participate in the Virginia State Steering Committee, Self-Advocacy Mobilization, and Partnership for People with Disabilities, in Richmond, Virginia. In addition, I was selected to give a speech about my life, at The American Red Cross of Virginia State Convention, in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2009.
I graduated from Potomac High School in 2007 and worked at the Pentagon for one year after high school. I was accepted into the George Mason University in the Mason Life program for students with Intellectual Disabilities. I have served my community by letting people know and see that anything is possible for people with disabilities. I will graduate in May 2012. I also work part time at the Library of Congress, and hope to get a full time job there. My family is very proud of me and my accomplishments. My family and community consider me a role model. They know that anybody can be successful in life if they work hard with the right support. I have come a long way from being the boy who some people said would not do well in life because of my disability. I am very proud to be getting the Congressional Gold Medal this year. I hope to inspire other people with disabilities to participate in the program.
~Darryl Edward Gray
2012 Gold Medalist