Tupper appreciates the support his hometown has given him
A little more than 16 years ago, I walked in to Mrs. Nosbisch’s kindergarten class for the first time. Thirteen years later, I walked across the stage to get my diploma, and for the past three years of my life, I have been away at college.Although I make it home from time to time, I have largely been disconnected from New Hampton. The place I called home for nearly two decades of my life is currently in the rearview mirror.How often does this trend happen in small towns? How often does a community pour into their youth, telling them to chase their dreams, yet only telling them that the dreams they are chasing are in suburbia or the city?I am all for students doing what is best for them. I certainly act within my own self-interest when it comes to my education, where I take internships, and the leadership opportunities that I pursue. However, is our messaging showing them all of the options?Many of you might have seen the article run in the New Hampton Tribune about me running for national FFA office. It was a grueling process, full of speeches and tests, workshop presentations and highly technical conversations. However, it was the last round that was the most telling for myself.The final interview round is where the nominating committee asks questions to truly see who you are as a person – what drives you to want to go through a process such as this and spend a year of your life constantly on the road, and many times alone, serving as a National FFA Officer?One of the questions was, “If you aren’t elected, what are you looking forward to?”Now, I had answered questions similar to this before, saying things like “I get to finish out my internship” or “I get to have the college experience and be invested fully at Iowa State”.However, in that moment, I said a simple phrase that was unrehearsed and unplanned – “I get to go home.”I spoke about my hometown at length. I spoke about the sense of community that radiates from places like New Hampton. People getting together to watch the big playoff game when they don’t have a child in a sport, watching band and choir concerts because they enjoy the music, and giving of their time to serve on civic boards.I spoke about true community.Through the years, I have had my ups and downs with this community. I have had teachers that I adored, and teachers that seemed like they wanted nothing more than to kick me out of their class. I have had coaches I couldn’t stand, and coaches that I would run through a brick wall for. To all of these people, I want to say this – Thank You.You have shown me that true happiness only comes when you do things to support others dreams. That lesson is one I will carry forward in all that I do.There is one more thing that I ask of this community though. Create a generation of students that want to innovate, that want to create something new. Create a generation of students that don’t see communities for what they are, but for what they can be. Create a generation of students that are committed to their community when they grow up, no matter where the community is.Lastly, continue to bless the lives of students and mold them into people that don’t fear chasing their wildest dreams, just like you did for me. If you can promise me that, I will promise you that I will do the same.From the bottom of my heart, thank you for everything you all have done and will continue to do.