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NATCA Scholarship Winner Madison Chouinard’s Essay: “The Butterfly Effect”

Every year, NATCA offers a scholarship program for spouses, children, stepchildren, and legally adopted children of active, retired, and deceased members in good standing for at least two consecutive years. This scholarship is for full-time attendance at accredited colleges and universities within the United States and its territories for an undergraduate degree program.

Unions empower people to negotiate together and advocate for better conditions and policies on local, state, and national levels, working to achieve a brighter future for everyone. For 2022, students were asked to write in response to the prompt: “What is the difference between a group of people advocating for a cause versus one person speaking up for something they feel strongly about?”

Madison Chouinard, child of Seattle Center (ZSE) member Erich Chouinard, is among this year’s 20 winners of a $1,000 scholarship. Below is the essay that Madison submitted.

Wiggle your pinky. You would not expect the change that little movement would create by simply moving the molecules in the air 1/4 of an inch in any direction, yet you could create catastrophic changes to the world. A meteorologist, Edward Lorenz, created a theory called The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect tells you to imagine a butterfly flapping its wings.

While you do not think anything of it in that moment, the molecules in the air around the butterfly are being thrown from static to dynamic. This may seem like nothing, but these little changes could create bright beautiful sunny days or incredibly gruesome lightning storms. If a single butterfly could create that change, imagine a swarm of butterflies all flapping their wings and the impact they would have on the world.

Change is bound to happen one way or another, either by a singular person or by a group of people; but the impact will be much stronger with a group. At my school Caucasians are the minority, I go to a predominantly black high school. Currently a major advocacy at my school is the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Before the movement became a nationwide phenomenon, we had random individuals speaking on how black lives mattered. Unfortunately, there was not much of a support system behind them, nor was there much done from a singular person. However, when that one person met with another who was preaching the same motto, who was wiggling that same pinky, change started to occur faster. We started to see more posters, a club for our black students to educate the rest of the student body, more events, etc. While it started with multiple individuals desiring change nothing happened until they banded together.

The question in theory can only be answered in one way, advocating in a group is bound to grab more attention and to get more people to listen, but will never be a movement without a singular person speaking up for something they believe in. You cannot have one without the other.

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