Lauren Nickerson has won the Rotary Bursary for Grade 12 students from the North Grenville District High School with excellent academic achievement and outstanding community service.  Nickerson had a mid-term average of 91% and has been active in the Kemptville Youth Musical Theatre Company, the Merrickville Children’s Choir, Sarah’s Hope (which is raising money to help rebuild a school in Kenya) and the North Dundas Soccer Association, among other activities.  She hopes to have a solo career as a classical vocalist in the future or some role in inclusive musical education.  She will begin work on a degree in music at the University of Ottawa in the Fall.

In applying for the bursary, Nickerson was required to write a 500-word essay on one of the following subjects; “What can one person do to promote world peace,” “What can I do to contribute to my community,” and “How would living by the Four-Way Test make my life better.”  The Four-Way Test is the statement all Rotarians strive to live by:  “Is it the truth; is it fair to all concerned; will it build good will and better friendships; will it be beneficial to all concerned.”

Nickerson entitled her essay “How Living by the Four-Way Test Makes Life More Fulfilling.”  Here is the complete text:

“Despite the many differences between individuals, there is one thing we have in common:  all of us are searching for a quality of life that makes our existence worthwhile.  We long to be fulfilled, to be the best individuals that we can be.  Oftentimes we simply become so discouraged that we give up trying, and allow ourselves to become less than we could be.  The Four-Way Test asks us to examine what we think, say, and do in order to create a healthy and productive environment for ourselves and others.  Though there are four qualities involved in the Test, it can be categorized into two sections; honesty and the value of truth, and the care for oneself and others.  By following the Four-Way Test, we can strive to have the best quality of life that we possibly can.

There are many personal benefits to having a deep-rooted value of honesty.  As an honest individual, people learn to respect you and grow in trust of your words, your ways, and your convictions.  It is the honest individuals who are rewarded with promotions,. Entrusted with additional responsibilities, and make known in the greater community by those who appreciate their honesty.  It is invaluable to be able to face any situation with a clear conscience, without the heavy guilt and shadows of dishonesty.  In addition, it is gravely important to be able to decipher between the truth and a falsehood in situations around you.  So much of our world is comprised of greys and half-truths that it takes a clear mind and a clean conscience to be able to make its way through without being blindsided.  To be able to speak and recognize when the truth is being spoken allows clear communication and a better quality of life. 

When I was young, I drilled “Love Your Neighbour as Yourself” into my head.  I took from this that others must always come first, no matter what.  But as I grew up I realized that in order to love others we must also love ourselves.  As the Four-Way Test states, we must make sure that the situation is fair and beneficial to all concerned, which includes ourselves.  By caring for ourselves we ensure that we are not being overrun, and therefore have more energy and resolve to pour into the world around us.  However, it is equally as important to care for the needs of others in order to live a full and vibrant life.  It is essential to remember that people love those who love them. . . and when you invest in the world around you, and show people how to care for themselves, it provides a well-balanced and healthy environment in which to live.

By keeping these in mind, we are able to build a firm foundation for ourselves, living and growing in honesty, in self-care, and in respect for those around us.  We must never forget that every small action leads to something, whether positive or negative.  It is our responsibility to be sure that it is life that we are inspiring, and to be sure that we take every thought—every action—captive in order to build towards the quality of life that is ours to embrace.”

Lauren Nickerson is a credit to her parents, her teachers and her community.  We wish her well as she embarks on a new and exciting career.

Image Pictured with Lauren are club president Jill Eagle and New Generations committee member Rob Horning.