I can see it now.
Me, standing on the stage at the Younes Center in Kearney, with 2,000 of Nebraska’s finest students sitting in front of me. I look into the blinding lights, put on a welcoming smile, and introduce myself as Wyatt Nun, candidate #15, running to become Nebraska FBLA’s next State Reporter.
Let me establish some backstory. FBLA, better known as the Future Business Leaders of America, is a student-led CTSO (Career and Technical Student Organization) that enables high school students to prepare for the world of business after graduation. I joined as a freshman after some of my older friends highly recommended it to me. I quickly grew very fond of FBLA, mostly thanks to the amazing leadership from our adviser, Mrs. Talley. She helped not just me, but all of our chapter’s members in completing different activities throughout the school year. And thanks to her guidance, I was able to qualify for the National Leadership Conference in 2018.
As my FBLA career continued forward into my sophomore and junior year, I quite enjoyed the idea of leading Nebraska FBLA on a higher level. The small group of scholars that get this duty every year is known as the State Officer Team. This is a team of six highly-qualified individuals who help members from across Nebraska achieve success. After looking back on everything the past State Officers had helped me with, I felt it was only necessary that I try and pass it forward by following in their footsteps.
My journey to office began in December, when I had to turn in an application to run. When deciding between what office I wanted, I decided to go with reporter for obvious reasons. After completing that part of the process and being approved by the state’s Board of Directors, I was asked to attend a screening day in Lincoln. At this event, I was required to take a test on my FBLA knowledge and be interviewed by members of the Board. I believe this day went well, because I was informed that my campaign was given the green light. I was officially allowed to run for State Reporter at the 2020 FBLA State Leadership Conference (Referred to as SLC) in Kearney.
It was at this point that I really started to prepare for running. I was purchasing pamphlets, pencils, mints, and anything else that I thought could further enhance my campaign. I was adjusting items left and right, thinking every little detail would put me just a step or two ahead of my competition. Yet, despite all of this preparation, I knew it wouldn’t be the materialistic aspects of my campaign that got me elected.
In my personal opinion, I think the biggest component of the election is your opening speech. On the first day of SLC, every candidate is to give a two minute speech to the audience. In these 120 seconds, you’re supposed to introduce yourself, share your platform, and convince the membership why you’re fit to serve on the State Officer Team. After this, it’s really up to the students. They have the option of visiting candidate booths or attending the formal caucus (A question and answer session put on by the State Officer Team), but the first impression made in that opening monologue is what makes or breaks a candidate’s success.
This was the part of SLC that I was most looking forward to. Being a bit of a social butterfly, I felt as if this would be the strongest aspect of my campaign. Yet, before I’d even been given the opportunity to write my speech, I was informed that the State Leadership Conference had been cancelled due to Covid-19.
I was in a piano bar in Orlando when the news broke. Devastated, I honestly didn’t know what to do. This vacation was supposed to allow me to clear my brain before spending the rest of March focused on FBLA. But when SLC was called off, it’s all I could think about. The one event I’d spent months working towards was suddenly off the table thanks to a global pandemic.
Of course, I wasn’t the only one heartbroken over State getting cancelled. So were the current State Officers, all of the advisers, the Board of Directors, the Advisory Council, the sponsors, chaperones, judges, and everyone else involved with SLC. Yet, they realized that the organization still had to push forward to make due with the situation. So, the other candidates and I were informed that there would be a “virtual election”, where we would submit our materials into a Google folder, along with a pre-recorded speech that was supposed to be given in Kearney. This was how members would elect their next State Officer Team.
I was horrified, to say the least. Outside of a video of my speech and a formal caucus that was recorded on Zoom, that’s all the personal contact the membership would get from me in this election. Suddenly, every plan I’d had for my campaign went straight out the window. This led to plenty of stress and uncertainty over what might happen. However, I knew I couldn’t let that ruin my hard work. So, I recorded a stellar speech, gave the best answers I could provide in the caucus, and prayed that everything would turn out alright.
It was 12 P.M. on April 17 that they announced who the new state officers would be. When it came time to unveil the newest reporter, predecessor Sadie Shriver declared that Fillmore Central’s Wyatt Nun would be filling the position. It was official; I’d won.
This was a bit of a surreal moment. Sure, it wasn’t nearly as exciting as it would’ve been if I was on the stage at Kearney, but hearing those words shook me nonetheless. The goal that I’d dreamed of accomplishing since my freshman year had finally been met, and I couldn’t be happier.
Now, I know I would’ve never gotten elected if it wasn’t for some help. First, I’d like to thank my parents, who supported me throughout the entire process and never gave up on me. Next, I want to thank all the local businesses in Fillmore County who helped fund my campaign. Their financial support enabled me to actually purchase all the materials I needed to push forward. A group of people I need to thank are all of the FBLA companions of mine who inspired me to run. Without them encouraging me to run, I may not have never gone through with it.
Finally, there’s one special person who deserves all the praise in the world. If not for Mrs. Cindy Talley, the best adviser in the entirety of FBLA, I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this amazing organization. And actually, my ambition to run for state office began with her. After SLC my freshman year, the chapter had gone to eat at Culver’s. I remember sitting at the table with her and discussing how I might actually have an interest in running for state office. She looks me dead in the eyes and goes, “we’ll see about that.” Well Mrs. Talley, I did it. I really did it.
I already know this year is going to be very unorthodox. My team and I have yet to actually meet in person, and our first public appearance at the National Leadership Conference has already been cancelled. However, we’re going to power through this. If Nebraska FBLA is known for anything, it’s our determination. This pandemic may have kept us from meeting, but it won’t stop us from leading our state with honor. For a kid whose dream started in Culver’s, I’d say I’ve done pretty well.