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by: Nikhila Viswanathan
Our 2015 Matthew Stuski Scholarship recipients Faith Jones Jackson, Ming Jiang, and Nikhila Viswanathan, are back in Philly from a week long leadership conference (LEAP) in Los Angeles. We checked in with Nikki to hear about her experience and this is what he had to say...!
Our journey began in Philadelphia airport where Ming, Faith, and I checked our bags in and received our tickets to Los Angeles! After a long trip, we were greeted by leap coaches who helped us with our luggage. As we waited for more Leapers in our van to UCLA, the coaches introduced themselves and started dancing to songs in the radio! It was at this moment I thought
: "Wow! We already started a dance party as soon as we landed! I can't wait to see what's in store for us on campus!" It was only after the week ended that I realized that I would have new reasons to smile each day:
1. My Group
After a great opening ceremony, we split into groups. When I introduced myself, I was timid and spoke softly. My coach, Alex, asked me to speak up and I was worried that the people in my group would judge me for being timid. But I was wrong. Throughout the week, everyone in my group became so close. We all had different traits that set us apart, but made us a great team when we were put together. We had pageant title holders, a chef, an African scholar, a returning leaper, an intelligent scholar, a silly Australian, and a panda lover (ME!). Throughout the week we had each other's backs and always found reasons to smile. My coach Alex selected me as the "BIGGESTleaper" from my group because she saw how invested I was in our group and how much spirit I had. It was my honor to make my group members smile and laugh that week but honestly- they in turn had done something for me: Noelle, John, Auna, Lora, Linda, David, and Alex all gave me a reason to smile!
2. John O'Leary
Another reason that I'm smiling today is because of all the amazing speakers who came to LEAP. One notable speaker was John O'Leary. During his speech he said "there is a reason for our pain" as he discussed a painful event which caused him to lose his arms. As he said this, I was inspired because I have faced pain as well. He helped me realize that it's alright to be hurt, and long as we can make the most of it and stand up once more. There are a plethora of reasons to smile because of leap but I'll leave you with this last reason:
3. "You're a 10! And you're UNSTOPPABLE!"
On the first day, Dr. Bill asked us to choose a number on scale of 1-10 that best represented us. Honestly, I gave myself a 4. Although many people have said I accomplished so much in high school, I felt lacking. Yes I might have received awards and lead many clubs- but I still felt that I could have accomplished more than what I already did in high school. After we all showed what number we were, Dr. Bill all told us that we were all 10s. We chanted everyday how we are all 10s! Despite the challenges and mistakes we make, we all all 10s. I hope that after reading this that you too realize that you're a 10! If not anything, take it from me- a person who thought she was a 4, that YOU ARE A 10, and you are UNSTOPPABLE!
Special thanks to the Stuski Family and the LEAP Foundation for their continued investment in our young leaders!