Ambassador: John Monday

How did you earn The Congressional Award?

VPS: For Voluntary Public Service, I completed over 400 hours of Voluntary Public Service at Stepping Stones Riding Program at the YMCA of Thousand Oaks. I taught children how to groom, saddle, and ride a horse, and I schooled and cared for rescued horses making them of value to our community.

PD: For Personal Development, I taught myself advanced piano pieces while taking weekly lessons in piano technique and studying music theory. I performed these pieces publicly for church services, senior centers, piano recitals, and competitions; I now tutor students in piano and music theory.

PF: For Physical Fitness, I trained in three athletic areas: baseball, weightlifting, and trail running. I increased my batting average, learned how to safely lift weights, and trained for and competed in a 5K trail run on uneven trails in the Santa Monica Mountain Range.

EXP: For Exploration, I was a Student Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China with People to People. To prepare, I learned about the culture and gave a Keynote to my delegation about the Terracotta Army. In China, I kept a journal and did community service at an apricot orchard and a school for the disabled.

What are your current ambitions?

Right now I am primarily focused completing my last semester of my Senior year. As a continued goal-setter, I have set goals in a variety of areas including athletic and financial. I love to read and have a list of books I am working through. Aside from school, I read about 2 books per month. What is important for me is to grow daily in three areas of life: moral and spiritual, intellectual, and physical. By shaping myself to be the best version I can be, I put myself in a position to best help those who cross my path.

Where do you find your motivation?

Motivation for me is found in a number of ways, from reading books to listening to podcasts and to even watching TED Talks. Primarily though, motivation is found by having three things with me each day: someone to look up to, something to look forward to, and something to chase. I look up to God, I look forward to family, and I chase my hero. My hero is the best version of myself which I recognize is unattainable. I find it helpful to begin each morning by reviewing daily reminder list I have compiled over the years to help motivate and guide my approach to the day ahead and to help shape the best version of myself. Here are some of the ideas on that list.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” ― Proverbs 3:5-6

“I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” ― Etienne de Grellet

“Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” ― Winston S. Churchill

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” ― Commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi