Living Gratefully

As I sit down to pour my heart onto this page, I find myself overwhelmed with a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the twists and turns of my journey, for the person I’ve grown into, and most importantly, for the incredible souls who have walked alongside me, shaping my path in ways both seen and unseen. Today, I want to take a moment to honor and express my heartfelt gratitude to the guiding lights who have been my rocks through it all.

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Growing up in the small town of Sublette, I learned early on the power of genuine kindness and support. From the familiar faces at Macias, where I would spend my Saturday mornings with my dad and the old farmers talking about this week’s latest and greatest, to the comforting waves exchanged on Main Street, every interaction served as a reminder of the strength found in the community. To my Sublette family, thank you for providing a nurturing environment where dreams could take root and flourish. Your belief in me allowed me to chase dreams that started as a young 8 year old with a passion for cutting grass and wanting to give back to my community. Your support propelled me forward even when the road ahead felt daunting and uncertain.

To my mom and dad, the bedrock of my existence, I owe an immeasurable debt of gratitude. From the days of my childhood to the challenges of adulthood, you have been my champions, my supporters, and my greatest sources of love. Your endless encouragement, selfless sacrifices, and unshakable faith in my abilities have given me the courage to chase my dreams fearlessly and to rise above any obstacle in my path. 

Mom, thank you for always putting up with my bossy attitude when you would drive me around town when I still couldn’t drive myself, for always embarrassing me in the hallways of the school by giving me hugs and shouting “I love you” clear down the halls. Even on the days that I wish you were not yelling down the halls how much you loved me, thank you for teaching me the importance of being kind and the importance of showing support for others. 

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Dad, thank you for all the memories on the golf course, for taking 5 year old Christian on those tractor rides and for all the times that you said, “don’t tell mom”. You have taught me the importance of hard work and showing dedication to the things that I am passionate about. I will cherish the times we spent together working hard, and playing even harder. 

Mom and Dad, thank you for imparting upon me the values of resilience, integrity, and compassion, and for instilling within me the unwavering belief that with determination and hard work, the world is mine to conquer.

Mr. Johnson and Ms. Meyer, you were more than just educators to me – you were lights of inspiration during my high school years. Your dedication and passion for nurturing not just our minds but our spirits as well left an incredible mark on my heart. Thank you for your tireless efforts, your patience, and your belief in my potential. Whether it was my first day in welding and Mr. Johnson told us that if we give him the wrong tool he got to throw it at us, or annoying Ms. Meyer on the way to every competition or road trip we went on. The lessons you imparted and the encouragement you showered upon me continue to resonate with me, serving as guiding lights in my darkest moments. Without you two, my journey throughout this organization would not have been what it is today. 

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To my teammates, Kai, Sage, Karli, Payton, and Cecillia, thank you. Each and every one of you have touched my life in many different ways. From the first time we all knew we got the opportunity to serve together, to the late nights in hotel rooms, or the dinners we cooked together. You each taught me something throughout this journey. Kai, you taught us all to relax and take it as it comes. Sage, you showed me how to have an intention behind the work that I do. Karli, you showed us all how to love each other and the things we do endlessly. Payton, you always made sure to lighten the mood with a good laugh when we all needed it. And Cecillia, thank you for showing me how to always care for the people around me. 

Last, but certainly not least, to my extended family, near and far, thank you for being the sturdy branches of my family tree, providing me with roots to ground me, branches to shelter me, and support to uplift me. Your love, your presence, and your steadfast support have been my constant companions on this roller coaster called life. From the massive family gatherings all the way to quick visits on a road trip, you left an impact on this kid that you may think you may not have left. Whether offering a word of encouragement, a listening ear, or a comforting embrace, your unwavering presence has been my anchor through every up and down that I have faced.

As I pause to reflect on the journey that has led me to where I stand today, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude for each and every soul who has touched my life in profound ways. To my Sublette community, my mom and dad, Mr. Johnson and Ms. Meyer, my extended family, and my teammates – thank you for believing in me, inspiring me, and shaping me into the person I am today. Your influence will forever be etched in the fabric of my being, guiding me as I continue to chase my dreams and aspirations with determination and boundless courage.

With a heart full of gratitude and love,


Christian Pena
2023-2024 Kansas FFA President