Sharif Long inspires many lives with his accomplishments

Sharif Long sits and visits with Governor Greg Abbott who is also a graduate from Duncanville. (Diane Williams photo)

Sharif Long sits and visits with Governor Greg Abbott who is also a graduate from Duncanville. (Diane Williams photo)

By Auyana Aird, Writer/Photographer/Videographer

One young man remained standing amongst the large crowd of seated people. Over a thousand Youth and Government delegates and important faces could be found in the crowd. As the student began to speak, his  words caused tears to fall not only from his eyes but from those in the crowd that knew him. Senior Sharif Long was giving his final speech as Texas Youth Governor before passing down his position. This speech was a moment that he would never forget.

Long is currently in his fifth and final year of Youth and Government (YAG) as a Duncanville High School delegate. At last month’s YAG State Conference, he performed his duties as outgoing Youth Governor before welcoming his newly elected successor into office at the closing ceremony.

“Since I was elected as Youth Governor a year ago, I knew that wrapping up my last state conference in my closing speech would be the most difficult part emotionally for the weekend,” Long said. “I decided to not write a speech because the heartfelt ones are the most passionate, raw and memorable.”  

Long has executed many responsibilities of being a young leader at Duncanville High School. He has involved himself in schools programs such as student council, HOSA, marching band, tabernacle, NHS and of course YAG. The Youth and Government program has molded Sharif into what he is today.

“Through Youth and Government, I have been able to broaden my perspective on both a national and international level of so many different backgrounds, creeds, political ideologies, and beliefs,” Long said. “This exposure has allowed me to truly seek first to understand, then to be understood. In a society so polarized by politics, Youth and Government has changed the negative perception I had about the future leaders of our country around completely.”

Juggling his positions of Senior class president, drum major for the band,  and Duncanville band president, Long made a strong commitment to add being the Texas Youth Governor to the table. To be leader in YAG, you have to abide by the YMCA core values which are responsibility, respect, honesty and caring.

“Sharif wasn’t really too strong in middle school. He was still learning the processes and what to do,” YAG advisor Mrs. Her said. “Once he got it, he came to the high school and became the strongest leader here and really helped grow the program.”

The Youth and Government program first started out with just a handful of students and now there are 59 students in the program. The advisors believe Sharif is one of the main reasons why the program has grown tremendously.

“Sharif has really taken charge of this club and claimed ownership to mentor new members and help them be successful and I think that is why we have grown.” Mrs.Her said.

Long’s lifelong dream is to fulfill a career in medicine. He prays that he will attend the University of Pennsylvania and obtain a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and become a successful orthopedist or general practitioner after attending medical school.

“I see Sharif being a leader in anything and everything he does and I also see him being an inspiration to others.” Youth and Government adviser Mrs.Williams said.

Long has learned how to step out of his comfort zone and speak with power and confidence because “Everyone’s voice does matter”. He has been able to inspire, empower, and encourage many people, even some around the country, with his words and actions.

“Young leaders must understand that we are not only the leaders of tomorrow but also today,” Long said. “With that in mind, it is imperative to step up and take responsibility for applying oneself and being up to the challenge.”