The value of education often isn’t appreciated until a later age, partly because kids see it as being forced upon them.
UofL freshman Alyssia Leach, however, didn’t grow up with that mindset.
Growing up surrounded by educators, she eagerly looked forward to going to school and learning, knowing its ability to open doors in her future. She also saw, earlier than most, a way she could impact others’ lives if they had that same passion. She taught her sister during the summers when they were both young kids, but it didn’t stop there.
In high school, Leach created an organization at duPont Manual High School that provided teen entrepreneurs a place to connect and share their individual obstacles and successes.
At that time, she learned about and became involved with GripTape, a nonprofit organization that gives youth between the ages of 15-19 the opportunity to apply for financial help to support learning endeavors they wish to pursue, driven by their interests and passions. GripTape grants students up to $500 to learn something new, for example building computers, saving animals or learning new trade skills.
“GripTape has impacted more than 600 students across the country by providing them with funding to change their futures,” Leach said. “Personally, I want to connect with each of these students and share their stories, learn from them and encourage the next person.
Now a member of its Youth Leadership Board, she spoke with the organization’s founder Mark Murphy and rolled out its new podcast, GripTaped, which showcases new challengers and goes in-depth about what they chose and what they’re learning.
“I think that my love for school is rare, but an important part of my current successes,” Leach said. “I was always the kid who loved going back to school and was known as the teacher’s pet, but it never bothered me because I always reaped the benefits.”
Leach, who is in the process of finishing her first semester of college, already has her future laid out. Currently double majoring in marketing and chemistry, she wants to open her own laboratory where women can create their own makeup, skincare, or hair care products to be distributed in stores.
Leach is working to partner GripTape with the UofL’s College of Business to reactivate the entrepreneurship club and explore funding startups born from the club.
“GripTape’s message motivates me every day to go beyond the work in the classroom and see what else the world has to offer,” she said.
Leach’s leadership role with GripTape has earned her a keynote speaking opportunity at the Aurora Institute Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 25-28, 2020. Her topic will be, “Leading with Learners: Elevating Student Voice in Education Transformation.”