State Officer Blog: Go Beyond TSA

The truth is that TSA just isn’t enough.

Let me be clear: this is by no means a criticism of TSA—in fact, it is a dear appraisal of it.

There is no better ecosystem than TSA in which one can learn technical skills. Coding, CAD, graphic and product design, parliamentary procedure, public speaking, woodworking, photography—the list goes on, and on, and on, and on. Sometimes, I feel that we lose sight of this, and thus take the skills and experiences gained from TSA for granted. So, take a moment and think about the skills you have learned as a result of TSA. Appreciate them. These skills will give you an invaluable edge to excel not only in school, but ultimately in the workplace as well.

For me, Promotional Design, Chapter Team, and being a State Officer have granted me unique skills and experiences that I would not have otherwise gained. If there’s one single thing that TSA has given me, I’d say it’s versatility: Promotional Design allowed me to follow my passion for graphic design while Chapter Team and State Office afforded me the opportunity to build public speaking skills. No matter which field I go into, these versatile skills have the potential to make an impact. For that, I am deeply appreciative of TSA.

Nonetheless, just learning these skills isn’t enough. While TSA will provide the environment for you to learn incredible skills, it’s on you to actually go out and apply those skills in the real world. I hold the belief that if we do not use our knowledge to make an impact, that knowledge is useless.

This past summer, I got a chance to apply what I had learned from Promotional Design, Chapter Team, and being a State Officer. In response to flooding in India, I started a non-profit effort called Kause for Kerala to raise money the flood recovery efforts. Using the graphic design skills gained from Promotional Design, I created a brand identity through logos, posters, and infographics to market the cause across the U.S.; using the public speaking skills gained from Chapter Team and State Office, I gave a series of fundraising speeches across my community to promote my cause. Ultimately, the $10,532 raised proved to me that the skills we learn in TSA have the potential to make a significant real world impact right now despite the fact that we’re only in middle and high school. It’s just a matter of whether or not you have the drive.

Now I’m not saying that you have to start your own Fortune 500 company or cure malaria or something. Start small, and build from there.

If you enjoy Webmaster or Website Design, maybe try making your own website about something else you’re interested in—like football or politics. This doesn’t have to be some nationally prominent site. It can just be a hobby. All that matters is that you’re applying your skills in the real world.

If you enjoy Prepared Speech or Prepared Presentation, maybe try going to your school board meeting to talk about something you are passionate about (like how Reporter Sam Catania described in his blog post). Again, it doesn’t matter that your speech might not cause a groundbreaking change in your township’s education. All that matters is that you’re applying your skills in the real world.

This is a time in our lives where most of us have the opportunity to try out new things where failure is okay. So, I encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone and into the real world and actually do something with what you’ve learned in TSA, because that’s what will really prepare you to lead in a technical world.

Be bold, and be adventurous.


Francis Chalissery

State Past President