Annette Calderon | Comanche EC, NRECA Youth Leadership Council, 2017
By Jessica Ridge | June 1, 2019
Annette Calderon vividly recalls the cramped confines of a Holocaust Memorial Museum elevator meant to evoke the claustrophobia of a gas chamber. “It was crazy how close we were together in that little elevator,” she says. Her group exited into a hall lined with thousands of shoes of Holocaust victims. The stark portrait of genocide brought history to life for Calderon in a way her studies had not.
The visceral intensity of that experience was tempered by the support Calderon found among friends on Youth Tour who cured her brief bouts of homesickness. “They would make me laugh so much that I would kind of forget about missing home,” she says.
Calderon, a freshman at Texas A&M University, plans to pursue a career in biomedical science. In her breaks from school, though, she’s back at Comanche Electric Cooperative, which sponsored her on Youth Tour. As a scanning and filing clerk, she archives co-op documents, sometimes finding herself awestruck by their historic nature. “It’s actually really neat to see how the documents from 1935 represent the foundation of our co-op, how it started,” she says.
Calderon credits Youth Tour with developing a more mature version of herself. It’s an opportunity she encourages others to take advantage of, in spite of any trepidation or traces of self-doubt. “No matter if you think you have a chance or not—I didn’t think I had a chance—I would always tell someone to do it, no matter what.”