By Josette Keelor
STRASBURG -- Time management helps any high school student balance schoolwork with sports, clubs and after-school jobs. Add to that an office in an organization with 200,000 members nationwide, and "multitasking" might not be a strong enough word.
When Laura Taylor, 17, returns to Strasburg High School as a senior this fall, the class president and National Honor Society member also will be national president of the Family, Community and Career Leaders of America organization.
Elected last Wednesday night at the organization's weeklong National Leadership Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Laura will represent the organization through next year's July convention in Washington, D.C.
Chosen from 33 previous state presidents who applied for the position, she said, "I was very fortunate and overjoyed that it was me."
Nine other members were elected officers -- two from Georgia and the rest from Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Wyoming and the state of Washington.
Laura said she's not sure what the year might bring but feels up to the task after serving a year as Virginia state president.
"FCCLA is an incredible opportunity and has really taught me a ton about career preparation and going out into the world, more than I could get sitting in a classroom and, you know, that's truly something that I'm thankful for," she said. "That education I've gotten through doing these experiences has really helped me."
"As state president I got to meet the governor, I got to advocate on Capitol Hill. I also got to ... stand up on stage in front of 2,000 people and speak," she said.
As president she looks forward to "a much bigger audience and bigger opportunities."
She also will travel more, talk with people around the country and help in conflict resolution -- all useful skills in helping states with various interests.
While Delaware's state delegation could need help building membership, Georgia, with a 35,000-member delegation, "might need help in just guidance."
"It truly is about who needs what kind of help," Laura said.
Still deciding on a college and course of study, she said she's interested in pursing a path toward U.S. ambassadorship.
First though, she'll need to finish high school and manage a summer schedule of conventions and travel that so far has brought her home to Strasburg for only a few short days at a time.
"I guess time management is just something I've had to kind of learn to pick up along the way," Laura said. "In my family we're all extremely busy so I guess in a way I was raised around that craze."
Her father is Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor, her mother is Mount Jackson engineer and Lord Fairfax Community College board member Rhonda Taylor, and older sister Rachel is a freshman at the University of Virginia planning to study abroad at Oxford University in England this fall.
"If you have down time," Laura explained, "you're kind of like, what happened?"
Of all her activities, which include playing volleyball and keeping stats for the basketball team following a shoulder surgery she had last December, Laura said, "FCCLA is going to have to be the top priority this year."
"I've made a commitment to my team, I want to be there for my team, but at the same time I've made a commitment to 200,000 members that I consider my team as well."
Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or firstname.lastname@example.org