It’s actually quite funny. I received an email two days before Christmas from Donnell at Philadelphia Young Playwrights congratulating me on being selected to participate in 2014 LEAP leadership conference in California. Of course I was super excited at first, because I mean who isn’t when they hear that they are going to California? After a few hours, I decided to look at the email again because I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. After reading more about LEAP, I had many thoughts in my mind that this conference was not one that I would enjoy.
Summer slowly approached, and I knew that this conference was sneaking up on me. I decided to do some more research on it once again, and this time I was committed to thinking that this conference really wasn’t for me; but I knew that everyone kept talking about how much they enjoyed it… So I figured that I would give it a shot, what did I have to lose?
Arriving to LAX in my green LEAP shirt was a memory like no other. Right away other people in these green shirts approached me. They were super enthusiastic, and welcoming. I thought to myself, “Ok, this is comforting”…. But what am I getting myself into. When we finally arrived to UCLA, I was surrounded by hundreds of other students like myself. Some of those students who surrounded me had been to LEAP almost every year! I then realized that this must be a great program if it means people keep coming back and back again.
I finally settled myself in, and shortly after that began to feel more and more at home. I got to meet my team, and it was so diverse! I had teammates from Australia, Germany, Malaysia, and others from around the United States. We started out with a bunch of icebreakers, and really got to know one another in such a short time. You would have thought we known each other for years by the way we were laughing so much! Then moving on throughout the night, the conference started to become intense; but a good intense. Our minds were being exploded with so much great information. Information on how to be successful, especially when you enter the real world.
There were many things I didn’t really know before LEAP because it was never really taught in high school. For example,LEAP taught me the importance of how to network, because in many instances networking is what will land you a job. Many companies aren’t worried about a resume you send, they want to know who you are personally, have people tell them good things about you; especially if they are hearing it from somebody that they are allied with.
Throughout the program my confidence kept boosting. Everyday we would do these cheers, which may sound silly, but they really helped me. “I am a 10, I walk like a 10, I talk like a 10, and I dress like a 10.” Everything that we do we would do these things as 10. I still today wake up with that motive that I am a 10, and it energizes me with positive thoughts for the day. Another thing that we did were “I Appreciate” notes. These were little notes that we would give or recieve! The best feeling is giving a note to someone, and seeing the smile on his or her face. I found these notes to be very encouraging.
I am so grateful that I had the chance to attend LEAP. LEAP has provided me with skills for the today, and the future. I cannot wait to apply them and use them everyday. I hope to return to LEAP next summer and be a coach. I would love to join the LEAP team; but for now I will stay in contact with my other fellow Leapers through a Facebook page, and help them strive to reach their goals!
Thanks PYP, and the Stuski’s!
The Matthew Stuski Scholarship is an award named in memory of the son of PYP Board Chair, Nancy Stuski and offers two full scholarships to one currect and one previous Youth Council member.
The LEAP Foundation helps high school students, college students, and recent graduates, get a “7 year LEAP on success.”LEAP does this by hosting an annual week-long LEAP Leadership Program at UCLA where the curriculum is based upon the experience of those who themselves have accomplished a great success – both professionally and personally. LEAP is a non-profit organization committed to educating young adults in the value of goal-setting, effective communication, and the invaluable power of mentorship – all of which are essential in helping today’s youth succeed, yet often omitted from most formal educational systems.