fionnaHi, my name is Fiona McCarthy, and I was a part of the LEAP program in 2013. When Richard recently came to me asking if I would write a testimonial for him, I gladly agreed, because LEAP truly was an amazing experience and opportunity for me.

During my time in the program, I learned to face fears that had plagued me for so long.  I spent time talking to people I didn’t know, making connections, and becoming involved in community activities I otherwise would not know about. By the time I left LEAP, I no longer had a fear of meeting people and just chatting. I no longer feared reaching out to those same people later on for networking benefits. I no longer feared messing up when it came to starting something new.

Shortly after my program ended, I got my first high school job as a hostess at a restaurant in Clarksville. I attribute much of my success in the interview and training process to LEAP. Then, as I began applying to colleges in 2014, I actually felt like I had some knowledge on how to build my application to be the best it could. So many of these skills of mine were either formed or sharpened with the help of my mentors and peers at LEAP.

When it came to my college application, I must have done something right, because I was accepted to Austin Peay State University, Michigan Tech, Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, and the University of California-Los Angeles. I ended up choosing my first choice, UCLA, and I will begin there in September with a $180,000 scholarship for Naval ROTC where I will study astrophysics in hopes of one day working for NASA.

This incredible journey and adventure are results of hard work and just knowing how to communicate. LEAP taught me that hard work is necessary, communication is key, and success is possible.

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