Emily Butler - Alabama Interview by Caroline Alegado Nominated by Kimberly Butler Photography by Butler Studio Issue 22 - Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Emily Butler is truly talented in everything she tries: dancing, public speaking, water sports, tutoring, acting, and more. But all these things are not what make her so inspiring. She is inspiring because even with all these talents, she has the most humble and generous heart. She does not see her gifts as something that makes her better, but something that makes her better able to serve. She spends much of her free time working for people who are truly needy: From volunteering with our local homeless shelter and soup kitchen, to spending two evenings per week tutoring at-risk children, to regularly helping and sitting with her shut-in grandmother.
Her beauty and gifts shine bright, but her heart of gold shines the brightest!
How did you get started in dance and who inspired you to start? I’ve been dancing since I was two, and I haven’t stopped. I can’t recall if anyone “inspired” me to start. However, there are countless people who have inspired me to continue. I’ve been blessed beyond belief with teachers and teammates who constantly push me outside my comfort zone. They inspire me to use my talent as a gift to others. They give words of truth and encouragement. These people continually motivate me to be, not only the best dancer I can be, but also the best person I can be.
How has dance helped you grow not only as an athlete? I’ve grown to appreciate self-expression, and how to be unified with people who do not think the same way that I do. Unity amongst diversity is the most precious kind. I’ve grown spiritually because I have a dance "Tribe" that keeps me accountable and reminds me of how God sees me. I'm more confident in myself and my ability to form genuine connections. I’ve failed miserably as well, teaching me that someone’s worst performance does not define them, but what they DO afterward.
What other extracurricular activities and service projects have you done? I had the honor of tutoring "at risk" students. But these kids taught me so much! I learned that most of the time when someone is difficult, they are probably dealing with truly hard stuff. It's amazing how far compassion and cookies can go. When kids are given the right kind of attention, they thrive.
Another activity is BEST Robotics, where I was blessed to be the CEO my 10th-grade year. This revealed my interest in public speaking. I found what I hope to make my career. I loved presenting to the judges. We won six awards and competed at South’s BEST! We set a record for our hub within our first year!
Describe what it is like to be a homeschooler and how it is different from what most people think. Being a homeschooler doesn’t mean anything other than learning the way your brain learns, which frees up time for SO MUCH MORE! My family travels a lot; so I can have more diverse experiences, and school comes with me. I have time to be my community, meeting all kinds of people, in all kinds of walks of life. The friendships I have made through homeschooling are the most precious relationships. I still get to go to football games and even proms. Homeschoolers aren’t limited, on the contrary. We have UNLIMTED options before us.
What was your favorite project you did with YLS? My favorite was our drive for toiletries for Shoals CASA, which works with foster children to make sure that they are safe, and their needs are met. Often when a child is taken from their home and placed in a new one, it’s completely unexpected and urgent. They usually don’t have time to grab so much as a toothbrush before their new life begins. It takes "the system" a few days to get the children what they need. The items we collected make an often scary situation feel a bit more secure by allowing the kids to have something as basic as the ability to brush their teeth on the first days of being in an unfamiliar place. This experience helped me become more aware of the difficulties of children's lives in our own area.
Emily will be featured in Issue 22 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!