L.E.A.P 2023 - Inspiring Dreams & Empowering Futures

LEAP was back for 2023 and, oh my, was it missed!  After a 3-year hiatus due to Covid and a shortage of bus drivers, it was great to welcome students once again. LEAP is held on a different campus each year and we were grateful to be hosted by Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids.   Our hope is that students get to know what it is like at each campus and learn about what each institution has to offer.

What is LEAP you might ask? It is a free conference for underrepresented students in high school with the opportunity to attend several breakout sessions on leadership, academics, work ethic, teamwork, the importance of being a positive role model, and positioning themselves for success in high school and beyond. 

This year, we invited several presenters from around the state to provide students with meaningful workshops on mental health, leadership, time management, study skills, and attend a resource fair afterwards. It felt great to see students chat with various college representatives to learn about the programs and scholarships offered as well as other organizations such as 4-H, Sallie Mae, Iowa College Aid, ICAN, Job Corps, and the military.

The 2023 workshop sessions included:

  • Life After High School, Planning and Paying for College and Career (ICAN)
  • Scholarships…Where do I Find Them? (Sallie Mae)
  • Wellness and Belonging on Campus for Underrepresented Students (Al Exito)
  • Build Your Leadership Style Through Team Building (Iowa State – 4-H)
  • The Benefits of Mindfulness Practice and How it Can Help with Mental Health and Wellbeing (Scanlan Center for School Mental Health)
  • Who’s Got Time to Study? (Project Connect)

A huge thank you to Mount Mercy for being our host site and also to the presenters, volunteers, resource fair participants, students, chaperones and the committee for making this year’s conference a success. 

“The LEAP conference was educational and really opened my eyes about looking at the opportunities available to me.  Walking around campus made me realize that college life is different from high school.  I really liked the library at Mt. Mercy because it looked nice and calm.  The people on campus were very helpful and nice.  I would recommend going to the LEAP conference to anyone who hasn’t visited because you learn how to pay for college and I hope to go after I graduate.”  ~ Ottumwa High School Student

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