Girls State: Rounds encourages girls to plan

Girls State: Rounds encourages girls to plan
Gov. Mike Rounds encouraged South Dakota's Girls State delegates to make plans for the future during an address Friday at The University of South Dakota's Slagle Auditorium.

Rounds said he enjoys visiting the Girls State group each year, because it is a chance to speak to young South Dakota women who are entering their final year of high school and preparing for their careers.

"A lot of people will be asking about your plans. They'll want to know where you're going to school, what you want to do," he said. "As you start this next year, I ask that you truly believe in yourselves. You can do anything you want to do."

Rounds said the most successful people are the ones who plan ahead rather than live on a whim.

"Set out to shape your own future or the future will shape you," he said. "You have all been taught the right stuff by your parents, relatives and teachers. Now is the time to take your unique attributes and add them to the values and character that has been instilled in you by others. Make decisions based on plans and goals."

Although Rounds advocates planning to achieve goals, he said life is also about taking risks.

"I'm not talking about stupid risks with a car or something that could be harmful," he said. "I'm talking about taking risks that force you to step out of your comfort zone and push you to try to achieve new heights. Believe in yourself and take those risks. You will never know unless you try.

"When I ran for my first public position as a South Dakota state senator, I didn't know if I could win, but I thought I should try. I had to step outside my comfort level and I had to put my ego on the line or else I wouldn't ever know if I could have won. I took a deep breath and stepped forward."

The governor also told the Girls Staters to allow others to shape their lives and to seek opportunities to make impressions on those around them.

"Recently, I visited Hanson High School (in Alexandria) where there were 24 graduating seniors and one of them was Cameron Deppe, who had been diagnosed with autism at the age of 3," Rounds said. "His mother had written to me and said, 13 years earlier when her son entered kindergarten, she worried about what the kids would do and how they would treat Cameron."

Rounds said rather than mistreat Cameron, his classmates bonded with him.

"The other graduating members of the class sent him notes about what a difference he had made on their lives," he said. "Cameron is the kind of person who goes through life with a smile. He had made a difference in their lives. That's the kind of impression one single person can make in so many people's lives."

Rounds asked each of Friday's attendees to make a commitment to better the world for future generations.

"I want you to commit yourself to leave this world better off than you found it," he said. "Because of the hard work of your parents, grandparents and those before them, this is a pretty good place. But I challenge you to improve it for the next generation."

Rounds said the best gift the youth of this state can give those who raised them is to succeed in life.

"Your parents believe in you, even when you were a troublemaker, even through all the arguments and worry, they still believe in you and love you," he said. "Return the favor and don't ever give up on yourself. Believe that you can do better and you can be anything you want to be."

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