The following is the essay that Brianna Guendulain submitted to Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Club for the Four-Way Test Essay Contest. Brianna is an 11th Grade Student at Golden Valley High School. Not only did Brianna win First Place from the BBRC Judges – she also won First Place in Rotary District 5240 competition. This is the first time that a winner from BBRC has placed First in the District Four-Way Test Essay Contest. Congratulations to Brianna!
In kindergarten, making friends was hard until I met someone who would be my friend. Soon she became popular, and I began realizing how she treated others. They say those you surround yourself with are who you become. At that time, I was so scared to lose my first long-lasting friendship. Going my own way meant that my kindergarten years would be spent jumping around different friend groups and constantly feeling left out. But I was okay with that because the moment I said, “I don't want to be your friend anymore” and she began to cry, was the moment I found the courage within myself to stand up for my own beliefs. Whether it meant being excluded or not. 
Leading up to this, I thought of my mom, who instilled strong values in me and told me of her past, in which she oftentimes had to go against the current. Against what others said was right, she followed her morals, even as children called her “weird.” I asked myself, do I value putting others down? Being the center of attention at the risk of losing true friends? No! It’d be unfair to falsely be her friend and to me, as I would be too surrounded by false friendships of those without goodwill or earnest intentions.
Although the way I communicated this was not beneficial to all concerned as I hurt her feelings, I learned empathy and that it was okay to be different, even good. Those experiences helped me develop my idea of goodwill and that a better friendship meant being truthful and fair to one another. Now I feel like I have some of the best friends one could ask for through utilizing the Four-Way Test.
Now that I'm aware of these principles, I find myself applying the Four-Way Test on a regular basis. It guides many of my decisions, such as whether I will show up to an Interact club event. I remind myself of my accountability along with whether it's fair that I don’t show up last minute to leave all the work for them. I may be exhausted or overworked, but that doesn’t give me the right to decide that I am more worn out than those who will show up.
Each of us has individual lives with so much going on that, if not paid mind, I may fall victim to seeing my problems as superior. Being absent when I said I would be there would not be the truth, nor would it be fair to those concerned. Not showing up will not only be non-beneficial to them but most of all to me because I must take responsibility for my actions as they reflect the type of person I am. I must bring my best attitude to build goodwill among my peers and better friendships.
As these examples show, the Four-Way Test is the foundation for my actions and my thoughts. These principles help maintain my consideration of others while always motivating me to work towards bettering my relationships with those around me.

From the Archives:

Carol Smith wanted to share a little bio sketch of Rotary founder Paul Harris in honor of his birthday.