The final candidates to represent their party were announced Thursday morning at the General Assembly in Aalfs Auditorium. Waid, from St. Louis, was chosen to lead the Federalist Party as Ruhama Teneda from Seattle was elected as the Nationalist Candidate. The governor of South Dakota ALA Girls State is announced Friday morning and will be inaugurated Friday evening.
By Madisen Martinez
Leah Waid finds respect and care in the words and actions of South Dakota Girls State delegates this year.
She resonated with those qualities found in candidates so much, she chose to use them as a base for her platform for Girls State governor.
The Federalist candidate’s keynote speaker Samantha Murtha, Boston, strongly agrees with Waid’s decision and her ideas for the platform because it focuses on what Girls State is all about.
“Instead of going up…and saying all of the qualifications that our governor may have or all the things that make us this big elite society, we’re taking it back to the basics (with) what we like to see every day: smiling at each other in the hallways, being there for each other in times of struggle, respecting each other and caring for each other,” Murtha said.
Waid’s friends and the counselors around her say Waid is a genuine, goal-oriented and committed delegate, but that she also manages to make the most out of what she does while having some fun, too.
“I have a lot of goals and aspirations and a lot of things I’d like to get done, but I also like having fun while I do it,” Waid said.
Waid’s senior counselor Laura Alexander attests to her genuine and encouraging delegate character.
“Leah came into Girls State, and I knew she was something pretty special,” Alexander said. “She’s so encouraging with including everybody whether they were elected into a certain office or not. She was so good about making sure they felt important and felt included on everything.”
Keynote Speaker Murtha also picked up on Waid’s compassion, even before the two officially met.
“She looked super fun and smiley, and she was definitely one of the candidates that stuck out to me right away,” Murtha said. “How she talked about how her grandpa was in the American (Legion) and how she talked about the pride she had to be a part of this — I love how (she brought) in that family aspect.”
Waid’s future goals include attending the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., where she plans to study foreign affairs with a minor in linguistics.
“It’s something that’s always been interesting to me. I love learning about other cultures, and I think studying foreign affairs is a real applicable way to do that,” Waid said.
Running for governor isn’t the first time Waid has run for office, either. In fact, she’s built up a resume in student council, too. Waid has been a faithful member the past three years serving as the school treasurer, school vice president, region vice president and the Spirit Point Region Representative on the state student council board.
Her 10 years of participation in 4-H have also led to many leadership positions. Because she started this club at such a young, she has held nearly every office position available.
Her interests also come from her experience in Lincoln Douglas debate, in which she has been runner-up at the state tournament and qualified to compete at the national level.
Music and art have also held a place in Waid’s life. The candidate has danced since she was four years old, and she’s played musical instruments for more than 10 years ranging from the violin to the piano to the French horn.
Supporters of Waid agree a successful leader is dedicated to her work, considerate of everyone around her and has a bright future everyone can see. Waid has demonstrated these qualities to those who have met her at Girls State, and these qualities shine even more so to her old friends.
Piper Mikkelsen from Cleveland has been a close friend of Waid’s and has gone to school with her in Yankton.
Both Waid and Mikkelsen dance together at Yankton High School and both participated in the National History Day Contest and will attend nationals in Washington, D.C., later this summer. Mikkelsen has been a supporter of Waid’s before Girls State kicked off earlier this week.
“She talked about (her interest in being governor) a lot in school. I know she’s made a lot of posters. She’s talked to a lot of people,” Mikkelsen said. “She’s really good at listening to everyone’s opinions… She would be a really good leader, and she deserves it.”
In an interview with the Sacajawea Scroll, Waid did not fail to give credit to her friends for their support thus far in her decision of running for governor.
“I have had a lot of encouragement from a lot of my friends,” Waid said. “I have a lot of respect for the position. I’ve been friends with Raina, so I’ve seen everything she’s done with it. It just felt like something I wanted to do.”
Girls State has fueled her passion to become a leader now and throughout her life. She has enjoyed this eye-opening experience as she has seen the leadership shine through other delegates.
“Girls State seems like an assembly of girls who want to make a difference. I think that’s really important, because — like I’ve said over and over — everyone has been so supportive and so encouraging. It’s amazing to see what the future leaders are going to be like,” Waid said.
As a committed, goal-oriented, and compassionate leader, Waid has been excited for the opportunity to campaign even though the process has been a whirlwind, she said in an interview.
“I’m excited to see how this process continues to help her grow,” Alexander said. “I honestly think she could go up to any girl here at Girls State and have a five to 10 minute conversation and be so genuine. (She’d) make them feel like they are the most important person in the world.”
By Lucy Dekkenga
Ruhama Tereda’s parents were so dedicated to giving their daughter the best opportunities for growth and education that they uprooted their entire lives so she could have the experiences they did not.
This history instilled a strong sense of patriotism and humility in Tereda – a humility that comes across when she speaks of herself, and is something others recognize immediately.
“She’s not going to power over us, she’s going to power with us,” said Nationalist Keynote speaker Eda Uzunlar, of Boston.
Tereda, a delegate from Seattle, was elected to be the Nationalist nominee for governor on Wednesday morning by her respective party — the kind of opportunity that wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of her parents so many years ago.
When many people first meet Tereda, they never imagine the path she took to get where she is today. However, they do see the impacts of it – qualities of open-mindedness, sincerity, dedication and leadership.
“The first things that come to mind when I think of Ruhama (are) a strong leader and great public speaker,” Avery Scott, city, said. “She puts 110 percent into everything that she participates in.”
Those qualities stand out to Scott and others because of the vast number of organizations Tereda has joined: Distributive Education Clubs of America, student council, renaissance, theater, oral interpretation and debate – with leadership roles on almost all of them.
These leadership roles have enhanced and strengthened Tereda’s reputation as a passionate and attentive leader.
“She’s the person you want representing you – she’s the person you envision and know she will do a great job on everything she does,” Scott said.
Uzunlar also believes in Tereda’s qualities as a leader and recognizes how much these would transfer as a leader of Girls State delegates.
“She is a really great leader that these girls can look up to and that these girls can identify as a peer,” Uzunlar said.
Tereda’s motivation to lead reaches deeper than a desire for leadership — she hopes to form one-on-one relationships by getting to know those around her.
“I really want to get to know people and try to find their strengths and try to work past their weaknesses, because that’s what I try to do individually,” Tereda said.
This sincerity and genuineness proves Tereda is a great leader, said Uzunlar, who has also found inspiration from her nationalist candidate.
“If one has a love at first sight for a role models, it’s (when I first met Tereda),” Uzunlar said. “I actually cried over her sincerity – sincerity when trying to lift up others. When she got up there, she knew barely any of us, but she wanted to lift everyone up that she could.”
Tereda, if elected governor, has many plans in order to further the Girls State experience.
“A lot of girls, before coming to Girls State, they’re a little apprehensive about it because they don’t know what’s going on,” Tereda said. “If we could send a PDF or e-mail with a schedule so they can get an understanding of ‘this is what I’ll be doing everyday,’ they would be a lot more comfortable coming.”
Tereda believes she would thrive in the position of governor because of her different perspectives, which stem from her journey to the U.S. – giving her a deeper gratefulness for this country.
“She understands our diversity from a lot of different perspectives and she can articulate that to other people very well,” Uzunlar said.
According to Scott and Uzunlar, there are many reasons Tereda should be elected governor. One reason stands above the rest – she exemplifies what Girls State stands for.
“I want to be a part of the team that makes (Girls State) happen,” Tereda said. “I believe in what ALA Girls State stands for. I believe that patriotism is what holds this country together and as citizens we need to recognize our rights and follow through with those responsibilities.”