Since the Leadership Waxahachie program came into being 22 years ago, it has turned out graduates from all walks of life whose goal is to make a difference in the community.

I first recall hearing about the program from a friend of mine, Jennifer Smolka. I wasnít really sure what the program was, but she described the first weekend as a real adventure, and I remember being curious about it. Iíve always been drawn to team building activities, and the way she described it, thatís what it sounded like. I will admit at that time in my life I was very dedicated to being a volunteer for our sonís activities, so I put that curiosity about Leadership Waxahachie on the back burner.

But as we all know, that clock keeps ticking. Those PTA and booster club days are now behind me, and my volunteer calendar for the most part has cleared out. So when my boss and Editor at the Daily Light Neal White, suggested I become part of Leadership Waxahachie, I was really excited. A graduate of the Class of 1998 and a past chairman of Leadership Waxahachie, he described his experience as extremely enriching. As he talked about his own encounter with the program, I could still hear how that involvement in the community grew into a part of the life he cherishes.

Soon to be an empty nester, Iím ready to invest in something I can say is ďmy time.Ē† I understand itís a yearlong commitment, but from what Iím hearing, itís one that reaps many benefits.

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Debra Wakeland said that at least every elected official in Waxahachie is a graduate of the course, and she stressed how this experience opens a personís eyes to what it takes to nurture and ensure what Waxahachie represents. †

We have lived here going on 16 years now, and I love the fact that I call this growing community my home. It has certainly changed since we first moved here, and as I get to know those who also call this home, I want to do my part to help preserve the history thatís here and learn how I can promote its success.

My husband and I grew up in cities about the size of Waxahachie, and we both wanted to give that same experience to our son. Much like we did at one time, he canít wait to spread his wings and head off to college. As he goes off to conquer his own horizons, we are left to discover the passions that we put on hold. One of those for me is to do my part to help make Waxahachie the place that other families come to call home as they raise their families.

With these thoughts in mind, Iím truly looking forward to learning more about what makes our community tick. From what Neal says, the classes focus on the local ties we have with government, education, arts, health and industry.

Since all three of these topics are woven into our daily lives, Iíll look forward to finding out more about them and getting a behind-the-scenes look at how the various agencies in these categories operate.

There are still spaces available in the 2012-2013 Leadership Waxahachie program, so if youíd like to find out more about this opportunity, call Brenda Ranck at the Waxahachie Chamber of Commerce at 972-937-2390 or check out the website at www.waxahachiechamber.com.

The deadline to get applications in is right now, so let the chamber know if youíre interested. Iíll be writing a monthly column on my experiences, and Iím also looking forward to sharing this information, so stay tuned.

Colleen Horning is a journalist with Waxahachie Newspaper Inc. Follow Colleen on Facebook at www.facebook.com/colleenhorningwdl, colleen.horning@wninews.com, which is also used for twitter or call her at 469-517-1452.