Last year, when I first qualified for Nationals, after competing the three previous years, I felt an overwhelming sense of excitement that stayed with me the entire week. From the student dance to the Team CT trip to Washington D.C. and meeting our State Senators, I was so excited to meet people who also loved history. When I qualified for National Finals, I could not believe how lucky I was to share my research with a wider audience. Of course, being able to say that I was ninth in the nation for my category was amazing as well, but this year I learned something much different
The day after I did not qualify for finals, my mom and I visited the National Zoo and the National Cathedral, a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. I visited Woodrow Wilson’s grave, saw tapestries that were more than 450 years old, and busts of important American figures, like Helen Keller and Jane Addams. Had I qualified for finals, I would have not had these experiences, because I would have still been competing. Seeing the history that surrounded me made me realize that I did not start doing History Day because I wanted to win. The scared sixth grader who took on the challenge did not start NHD because she wanted a medal. She started because she loved history. She loved sharing it with other people. Nationals helped me to find this part of me again, and I will forever be grateful for it.