This month’s National Renaissance Student of the Month is senior Carissa Knitowski from William B. Travis High School in Texas. Carissa has been involved with Renaissance for two years and has also contributed as a drill commander for JROTC, head costume designer for the theater department, National Honor Society, Spanish and English Honor Societies, and Beta Club. Carissa shares her Renaissance story:

What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
My favorite Renaissance moment was the instant change in the atmosphere after watching The Harbor video on judgement. Suddenly to whole student body was made aware of a subconscious action they had always been doing, and began looking at people in a new light. Students who had previously always looked down and tried to disappear held themselves a little taller, people became more aware of the people around them. It was a small change, one that probably went unnoticed by a lot of the school, but for me it was magical.

How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
The Renaissance program has affected our school by bringing the student body closer together. Our school has instituted a program that awards points for attending different events, which helps bring a sense of unity to all our various functions. My favorite and I believe most important aspect of the program is that it includes such a wide range of events. A football game is worth the same as a school play or music concert, breaking the notion that sports are the most important organizations. This gives every student no matter their interests a feeling of importance that could not otherwise be attached.

How has Renaissance affected you personally?
I am constantly judged for the way I look because I choose to express myself through the way I dress. My hair is shaved on one side, I have an industrial piercing, and my favorite piece of jewelry is a spiked dog collar. I remember watching the Mike Smith video and agreeing with every point he made, and thought it was a perfect reminder to the school that looking different is okay. That we don’t have to change ourselves to fit into the mold that society thinks makes the perfect student.

What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
The best piece of advice I could give is be yourself. There is a common misconception in schools that there is only one type of leader, and that the only way to be a successful leader is to be that type of person. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t become that person. I always felt fake like I had to put on a mask and pretend to be someone else or I would never succeed, but that’s not true. Its okay to be an introvert and its okay to not be zippy all the time, you become a good leader by tuning into your strengths not by fabricating someone else’s.

Carissa will receive a shirt and a lapel pin, and was entered into a drawing for free registration to this year’s Jostens Renaissance National Conference.

To nominate someone in your school for the National Renaissance Student of the Month honor, click here.

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