Challenge of D.C. Trip Preparation for Career Ahead
Daniel Tilley | Rusk County EC, 2010
By Travis Hill | June 1, 2018
Daniel Tilley likes a good challenge.
“I love to always try new things,” he says. “I like to get myself out there.”
It’s that spirit that has carried him through a number of difficult undertakings, from overcoming a childhood illness and earning a degree in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University to his current task: training to become a nuclear machinist in the U.S. Navy.
Among those challenges that became formative for him, Tilley also counts Youth Tour.
“It definitely lets you get out of your comfort zone,” he says.
Tilley was selected by Rusk County Electric Cooperative to participate in the 2010 Youth Tour for receiving high scores at a leadership camp the previous year. But to earn that spot on the trip, he first had to give a speech at a local co-op meeting—something he had done previously only in front of friends and classmates.
“That was my first time actually giving a presentation in front of people I really didn’t know,” he says. “It was a new challenge.”
He visited the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other sites of national importance through Youth Tour. For Tilley, though, it was meeting other students from across Texas and around the country that had the biggest impact.
“It definitely gave me more perspective,” he says, “[that] it’s not that insane to go out and talk to people and make new friends, to go out in the middle of somewhere completely foreign and just start something up right there.”
As he trains in South Carolina to work on nuclear-powered vessels, Tilley says Youth Tour broadened his view of community beyond his hometown of Carthage in far East Texas—a mindset he hopes other students gain from the trip.
“They’re actually really close to their county, to their electric co-op, to their state, to their nation,” he says. “And going to D.C. with everybody helped [show] you do have something in common with people 500 miles away that you’ve never known, just like you have something in common with someone 10 miles down the road. It showed how interconnected we all are.”