Local 15-year-old Mikaela Anderson recently demonstrated a milestone in her faith with the Young Womanhood Recognition Award of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Young women ages 12 to 18 who belong to the church can participate in the Personal Progress Program, a curriculum containing eight values important to the faith.
“The girls begin when they turn 12. Since it is a personal development program, each young woman completes the program at different rates, depending on their motivation,” Kristen Anderson, Mikaela’s mother and the Young Women president at the Providence Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Weddington, said in an email. “There are 46 experiences they complete, plus eight projects, which require a minimum of 10 hours of work.”
Young women are typically 16 to 17 when they finish, Anderson said. “Similar to the Eagle Scout award, they must complete it before their 18th birthday,” she added.
The girls develop personal habits of prayer, scripture study and Christ-like service, according to a news release. Anderson said the women have to attend a seminary, or scripture study class, every day before school at 6 a.m.
“Basically the entire program develops different attributes that are important to the faith,” Mikaela, a Providence High School freshman, said.
The award recognizes a pattern of progress, shows commitment to keeping the commandments, serving others and developing and sharing gifts and talents, and prepares them to keep sacred temple covenants, according to the faith’s website.
“The Personal Progress Program is really a handbook that teaches these girls how to develop talents, leadership skills, positive family relationships, the importance of serving others, and most importantly, faith in Jesus Christ,” Anderson said. “Faith is internalized and strengthened through action, so this program is really important in raising the future leaders and parents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Mikaela spent about three years working toward obtaining the award, she said. The program is encouraged but not mandatory, though Mikaela said her mother, who is highly involved in the program, plugged her in.
After devoting more than 80 hours to the program, Mikaela was given a necklace as a reminder to be a witness for God at all times, according to the news release.
“A girl/woman who wears her medallion is instantly recognizable to other members of our faith,” Anderson said.
The teen said she appreciated the lessons she learned through the program.
“I learned all the different attributes, and I had to read through them. I definitely learned that what you give is what you get,” she said.
Mikaela was required to complete a 10-hour project for each of the eight values. One of her favorite projects was indexing her ancestry and delving into her family’s history. Other activities included accompaniment of the piano in the church, scripture organization and reading the Book of Mormon.
Mikaela can now work toward more recognition in the faith.
“After a young woman completes the program, she can earn what is called an honor bee,” Anderson said. “It requires 40 additional hours of service and another complete reading of the Book of Mormon. Several of the service hours are spent helping other girls work on their personal progress.”
Mikaela hopes to encourage other girls in her faith to follow the same path.