By: Kylie Drossner, Baylor University Intern
Midway High School senior Courtney Janecka recently earned the Congressional Award Gold Medal. The Congressional Award is United States Congress’s highest award honoring youth who make outstanding contributions to their community undertaking the values of initiative, leadership, and service.
Courtney has been honored many times within Midway ISD and has been a Spirit of Midway recipient for four years. Courtney said the Spirit of Midway program helped inspire her to earn the Congressional Gold Medal.
Receiving the Congressional Gold Medal is no easy task. Courtney volunteered nearly 1900 hours of service and dedication to receive this medal. Each recipient of the Gold Medal must dedicate hundreds of hours to voluntary public service, personal development, and physical fitness, as well as planning an expedition.
For her community service, Courtney volunteered at numerous places throughout the area including giving tours at Historic Waco Foundation and volunteering with her church. However, she said about her greatest community service achievement has been making Courtney’s Creations. Courtney’s mother, Cindy Janecka, wrote a book about her struggle with breast cancer, and Courtney knew that others would be encouraged by her story. Courtney and her friends began making and selling beaded bracelets, and with each bracelet sold, she and her mom were able to donate books to hospitals, hospice and cancer centers, churches, and others who were in need of hope. Courtney has already raised more than $20,000 to donate toward her ministry.
For her personal development goals, Courtney focused on her faith and her music. She spent more than 500 hours participating in her church’s activities and continued her work as a singer/songwriter including weekly voice lessons and participating in Midway High School choirs.
To fulfill her physical fitness goals, Courtney participated in a variety of activities. She accomplished her goal to improve her walking time and also swam, played tennis, and engaged in calisthenics.
Lastly, for her required expedition/exploration, Courtney planned a 10-day trip with her mom to England to learn about the history, culture, and faith of the England. She was able to attend a church service there and immerse herself in the country’s culture. Courtney said her trip to England was her favorite memory from earning the Congressional Award and was so thankful to spend time traveling with her mom to another culture.
After all her work and dedication, Courtney said if there was one thing she has learned throughout the process, it is: “A life well lived is one lived for others.” Courtney plans to continue to serve others by earning a degree in social work with a minor in Spanish at the University of Texas at Austin. After earning her degree, she plans to work for a non-profit that serves the Hispanic community.
Courtney said her passion for helping others is inspired by her faith in God: “The whole reason I worked for this award and the thing that kept me motivated was I want to bring glory to the Lord.” Courtney encourages others to consider pursuing the Congressional Award as well with this advice: “Keep going even when it seems overwhelming. Make sure you are taking it day-by-day and find the fun and the purpose behind it.”
Past Midway ISD graduates to earn the Congressional Medal following their Spirit of Midway awards are Camden Brown, Class of 2011, Riley Gardell, Class of 2015, and Colby Janecka, Class of 2017. To learn more about the Spirit of Midway program, visit https://www.midwayisd.org/Page/940