Science Hill senior Julia Gilmore is used to receiving accolades, as she has raised more than $94,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital over the last nine years. But even the notification of receiving the Congressional Gold Medal surprised her a bit. But it is something that she has been working toward over the last two-and-a-half years.
On June 21, Gilmore will attend the Annual Gold Medal Summit ceremony and be one of only 574 youths from across the country to receive the Congressional Award Gold Medal. The program is open to all youth in the U.S. between the ages of 14 and 24. The gold medal that Gilmore will receive is made at the U.S. Mint. Gilmore was also named the school winner of the Heisman High School Scholarship, which earned her a $1,000 scholarship.
Can you share your journey towards earning The Congressional Award Gold Medal and how it has impacted your personal and professional growth as a graduating senior?
The Congressional Award is open to young adults to complete as a form of recognition for community and global service. It takes a minimum of two years to complete and has a rigorous amount of requirements. I needed to complete 400 hours of community service, 200 hours dedicated to personal development, 200 hours dedicated to personal fitness, and a 5-day exploration that I planned. By completing each of these fields, I was able to become more engaged within my community and internationally as well with global St. Jude correspondents, I perfected my piano skills through personal development and my tumbling skills within personal fitness. I also had the opportunity to plan a road trip up the east coast where I set out to learn about various philanthropic and cultural norms in New England. Overall, I discovered more about myself and my leadership capabilities because of my journey to this award which served me well as a mentor to underclassmen and will continue to help me as I leave Science Hill.
Where are you planning to attend college, what is your major, and why? How did Science Hill help prepare you to seek that profession?
I am attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill as an Honors Carolina member and a direct enrolled student in the Hussman School of Journalism (most UNC students aren’t admitted to Hussman until their sophomore or junior year). I will be double majoring in Journalism and Global studies with the intent of working in international news media. I’ve always had a love for writing and speaking, and I believe that the future of the news industry would benefit from someone who is willing to tell the truth. I also want the opportunity to travel and meet people from all over the world with inspiring stories that need to be heard. Science Hill allowed me to discover what career paths I enjoy and an incredible collection of staff members who have shown mentorship in my college decision.
How has receiving The Congressional Award Gold Medal shaped your future aspirations and influenced your plans for higher education or career choices?
The Congressional Award has given me the opportunity to connect with political members and other inspiring philanthropic leaders, as I will be traveling to Washington D.C. in June to receive this award from the United States Congress. With that being said, these connections have created an opening for me within the professional world and have given me some incredible mentors who have been willing to invest in my future and my goals to make a lasting difference in communities everywhere.
Could you describe a particularly memorable or impactful experience you had during your community service projects, and how it has shaped your perspective on community service and leadership?
Although local community organizations have given me some incredible memories, it would go without saying that the fundraisers I have hosted for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital have provided me with the best experiences. Particularly Project Imagination, hosted in 2022 where I had the opportunity to give the hospital more than I ever had in previous years. This contribution gave me a new perspective on the word community and showed me the overwhelming amount of people who were willing to make kids with cancer feel better.
As a graduating senior and recipient of The Congressional Award Gold Medal, what advice would you give to other students who aspire to make a positive impact in their communities and achieve similar recognition?
I would say, never forget the sole purpose that the idea of community service sets out to accomplish. Many times, young people get caught up in the recognition of an award and forget that the real reason why true philanthropists do what they do is to make others feel better, grow stronger, and to overall ignite a healthier community of people. If young adults today remember this notion, they will be successful in making a positive impact wherever life leads them.