Northwest Catholic in West Hartford represented at Capitol, Libby Vandal speaks

Students from Northwest Catholic at the Capitol, from left, Taina Rodriguez, Jesstina Hicks, Luciante Dulaire, Kateri Fitzsimons, Taylor Armstrong, Felicia Link, Elizabeth Vandal, Gianna Weidman, Erin Conway, Catherine Wilcox, and Graciela Santos.

WEST HARTFORD — On March 22, students from Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford attended Women and Girls’ Day at the Capitol. The event, scheduled in March in honor of Women’s History Month, was centered on empowering young women to lead. Workshops and keynotes included discussions regarding advocacy, community engagement, and civic responsibility. Eleven students from Northwest Catholic attended the special event, and senior Libby Vandal was one of four student speakers.

Vandal addressed the audience of women with a tribute to JK Rowling, world famous author of the Harry Potter series. Vandal began, “Today JK Rowling and Harry Potter are names tossed around in casual conversation all over the world, but it wasn’t always like that.” Vandal went on to talk about Rowling’s struggles with poverty and difficult home life. Vandal told the audience of Rowling’s challenges as a single mother and her battle with depression. The clincher? Vandal said, “When Rowling completed her manuscript in 1995, she sent it to 12 publishing houses, all of which rejected it. However, as we all know, she persisted.”

Vandal told her audience she chose to speak about JK Rowling because of the author’s persistence. Vandal could see how both personally and professionally, despite a myriad of hardships, Rowling never gave up. Vandal shared her own personal story of recently being rejected by her first-choice college and how she is already learning from the experience. Vandal said, “Rejection redirected me and helped me to get on the path I am on today.”

To her peers from the various middle and high schools, Vandal said, “I always remind myself that although things may seem rough right now, I am on the cusp of something great, that each obstacle is simply just a speed bump on the road of life.” Vandal’s message of learning from failure and embracing what she called “the human experience” is about growth and faith.

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