My name is Natalie Kirkley and I am the Oklahoma BPA State Historian/Chaplain for the 2023-2024 school year.
The first time I was introduced to BPA, I was a freshman in high school. I had just moved to a new school, so BPA was entirely new to me. My Sophomore year rolled around, and I made the decision to be actively involved in my chapter. I went to FLC for the first time, and I loved it. That was when BPA became a very important part of my life.
When my teacher announced that BPA State Executive Council applications were due December 1st of 2022, I knew I just had to try. I did not know what it was like to be a part of the Oklahoma BPA SEC. I only knew that one of my close friends, who was a state officer, loved and enjoyed it. I saw how passionate he was about it and I began to read through the application, talk to my advisor, talk to my close friend, and do numerous hours of research on what it was like to be a state officer. After that, I absolutely knew I just had to do it and try my best. I remember being terrified the day I submitted my application but that wasn’t going to stop me from fulfilling my passion to be a leader of an organization that was very important to me.
Once SLC was approaching and I had made it past screening, I dedicated my time to my campaign. I worked on it for months and had my campaign speech checked about 20 times. At SLC when it was my turn to give my speech, I was so nervous but as soon as I stepped out onto the stage, I was a completely new person. The nerves left my body and I gave my speech. It felt like an out of body experience. The day after my speech, I campaigned for 6+ hours and talked to so many individuals full of wisdom. The day after was election day. I was so nervous but also excited. I knew that even if I wasn’t elected, I did my best and I was proud.
When election time came, my name got called. I don’t even remember walking to the stage or getting a medal placed over my head, I was in shock. I knew the journey that was to come after that very moment was bound to be amazing. I met the rest of my team and became super close to them. They’re not only my team, but my family. There is something so beautiful about experiencing a once in a lifetime experience with amazing people. Not only did I become super close with my team, I got to meet and connect with the National officers, members, and other state officers from around the country. I have also met some of my closest friends who are also state officers of different CTSOs and it has been nothing but fantastic. Through this entire experience, I’ve been able to travel to places I never have before, speak in front of 2000+ people, and I’ve been able to play a part in leading members.
My advice: if you’re ever interested in running for state office or doing something that you are scared to do, do it. It is so worth it. I’m not going to lie to you, it does bring stress and frustration, but it also brings compassion, love, joy, and peace. I would not be where I am today without Oklahoma BPA and I am forever so grateful for the individuals who elected me into this position.