20/20 Leadership Blog

10 months 3 weeks ago

For KC Royals Scholar Michelle Thatsanithone, staying close to home has translated into opportunity.  She is currently a marketing intern at CBIZ and has been since last summer.  The internship was only supposed to last for a few months, but Michelle proved herself and was asked to continue working part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer.  “I’ve learned so much as an intern such as event planning, email etiquette, how to have conversations with people and how to be more prepared,” she said.

In hindsight, Michelle had been prepared for her college experience since she was a student at Lincoln College Prep.  In her English course, she was required to write a 2,000-word essay every two weeks and while her peers struggled, Michelle took the work in stride.  “That was something I had already done in high school, so it was as simple as making a plan, writing the paper and turning it in,” she said.

The experiences from 20/20 Leadership have also proven to be beneficial for the rising sophomore, who received encouragement to apply for the program from Nyree Smith, a counselor at Lincoln.  She graduated in 2015 as salutatorian and because of that, Michelle had the opportunity to deliver a speech at graduation.  She credits her experience in 20/20 for teaching her how to handle that moment. “Without 20/20 Leadership, I wouldn’t know how to stand up and project my voice with confidence.  I also wouldn’t know simple things, such as how to have a firm handshake or know that name tags always go on the right side,” she said.

Michelle attends Park University in Parkville, Missouri, a campus with smaller class sizes, the diversity she says was looking for and scholarship opportunities she didn’t find at other institutions.  While she is only entering her second year this fall, Michelle is on track to earn two undergraduate degrees, as well as a graduate degree by the year 2020.   She is the first in her family to attend a university and the pressure to succeed is one that she takes in stride.

Michelle was not initially named a KC Royals Scholar when she graduated last year and said she was shocked when she received communication from 20/20 Leadership earlier this year with the news.  “All I could say was thank you,” she recalls.   The additional scholarship will support her as she looks to move on campus in the fall.  With the move, she hopes to have the opportunity to be more involved on campus, as she was in high school. 





The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

11 months 1 week ago

Since she can remember, KC Royals Scholar Claire Mansur has somehow participated in activities that involve children, ranging from babysitting to working at summer camps.  All of the roles are fitting for the future educator, who will graduate in December 2016 from Missouri State University in Springfield with a degree in elementary education.  Soon after, she will hold a master’s degree in literacy, due to a program that allows students to complete both degrees within five years.


Claire is currently spending the summer working a youth program at Union Station.  This fall, she will complete her student teaching and look forward to substitute teaching next spring.  In preparation, she contemplates the type of teacher she would like to be. “I want to challenge kids, be hands on and not just pass out worksheets,” she says.


Hands-on is likely an understatement for the 2012 Lincoln College Prep graduate who describes herself as a calm and a go with the flow type of person.  During her junior year of college, Claire served as the lead coordinator for an alternative spring break trip to Dallas.  The purpose of the trip was to provide a safe place for kids in the area to go during their spring break. Her role was to coordinate all logistics for the trip, including the selection of the other students that would attend, the curriculum and activities for the week, along with transportation and lodging.  


None of the planning process for the alternative spring break trip could have been accomplished without professionalism and networking, skills Claire says she gained as a result of participating in 20/20 Leadership.  Participating in the program also helped her begin the process of branching out, as she says she didn’t initially know many other students in the program.   “The field trips also served as opportunities to learn things, such as how to shake someone’s hand and meet professionals,” she said.


Finally, she is also grateful for the opportunity to be named a KC Royals Scholar, a scholarship that has helped her family now that her younger brother begins his college journey this fall.  “I was shocked when my name was called, but I thank my mom for even encouraging me to apply.”






The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

11 months 2 weeks ago

“The more you give, the more you get.”

These words are somewhat of a life motto for Danyale Anthony and it is fitting for the college senior with a listening ear and a passion for helping others.  She will graduate in December from the University of Missouri – Kansas City with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Her post-graduation plan is to work as a victim’s advocate. “I’d definitely like to help at home in Wyandotte County first, but I also want to be there to support any kid that needs it,” she says.

Home wasn’t always a stable place for Danyale, who by the time she graduated from Wyandotte High School in 2012, was living with her uncle.  She had a goal of attending Jackson State University in Mississippi, but decided it was best to stay close to look after her younger brother.  Earning a $10,000 scholarship from the Kansas City Royals also helped cement her decision.  “At first, I didn’t think I would win and didn’t even realize my name was called.  I wondered why my counselor kept asking me if I was planning to attend the Shining Stars Celebration and afterward, it all made sense.”

The opportunity to participate in 20/20 Leadership was presented to her by that same counselor, Mrs. Leslie Simons.  “She said, ‘sign this, you’re going to be in the program’.  She also described it as an opportunity to learn professionalism.” 

Professionalism was just the beginning of the lessons Danyale was able to learn and take away from the program.  It was something that first was viewed as a day out of school, but she said, “I learned organization through the program, as well as how to act in professional settings.” 

Between balancing school, a full-time job, family and friends, Danyale still makes volunteering a priority.  She gives time to Veronica’s Voice, a local organization that works with victims of human trafficking.  She has also appreciated the opportunities of continued engagement that have come as a result of participation in 20/20 Leadership and being named a KC Royals Scholar.  “My advice to students is to be appreciative and to give back.”

  

The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
11 months 3 weeks ago

As he graduated from Pittsburg State University in May, Josh Cooper had two tools in his toolbox: a degree in construction management and a full-time position as a project manager with E&K of Kansas City.  The position came as a result of his hard work during two summers of interning with the company.  The transition from intern to full-time employee was seamless and now, he is more than grateful for the opportunity to work in the field he’s always been interested in.

The building doesn’t stop for Josh, who after working 10 hour days, goes home to his own construction project: rehabbing a 102-year-old home he inherited from his family.  “I started with patching up the closet and it grew from there.”  He hopes to be done by the end of the summer and says the project has taught him one thing for sure: expect the unexpected.

Those words could not have resonated more for the 20/20 Leadership alum who graduated from University Academy in 2012, initially without the KC Royals scholarship.  He received a call from 20/20 during the first semester of his sophomore year.  The timing of the call was perfect as financial aid issues caused him to doubt his ability to continue at Pittsburg State the following semester.  “I thought I would have to go home every weekend to work just to make enough to pay for school.” After being named a KC Royals Scholar, Josh had all college expenses covered.

Josh credits 20/20 Leadership for helping him to develop professionally, receiving positive feedback about his interview skills.  “The interview prep during the business expo was helpful because I know how to talk to people,” he said.  He also credits the program for helping him understand the importance of both networking and relationship building.  His senior project at Pittsburg State involved the design and installation of a sidewalk on campus.   Before any construction began, Josh and his team had to meet with key constituents, including the president of the university.  “Between my school and 20/20 Leadership, I felt prepared for those experiences,” he said.

All in all, Josh has taken what he describes as destructive behavior as a young child and turn it into something much more constructive. 


The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

12 months 10 hours ago

Between her junior and senior year of high school, Kelsey Schriver visited the campus of Northwest Missouri State University six times and never thought of going to college anywhere else.  “For me, it was the feeling of ‘when you know, you know,” she says.  Kelsey is an anomaly in a few ways, considering that she only applied to Northwest.  She also did not change her major during her four years in Maryville, crossing the stage, armed with a degree in interactive digital media. 

Kelsey has been preparing for life as a young professional since she began participating in 20/20 Leadership as a high school junior at Piper High School.  “Practicing handshakes and introductions were helpful.  I’m not afraid to embarrass myself and 20/20 helped shape that,” she says.  “Going through the program helped me to become more professional and think of myself as less of a high school student.”

Her journey as editor of the yearbook at Northwest also helped Kelsey along the way by offering a scholarship, as well as allowing her to cement her place in history as the first person to serve as editor of the Northwest yearbook for three years.   Her journey towards this role began as she took an interest in graphic design during high school and served as a photographer for the yearbook as a college freshman.

Kelsey reflects back to April 2012, when she realized she in fact had earned a $10,000 scholarship from the Kansas City Royals.  “My mom and stepdad lost their jobs during my sophomore year and were not able to help me finance my education.  The Royals helped me go to college and without them, I would not have been so successful,” she says.

Kelsey is back home, working an internship at VML and giving herself one year to move out of her parent’s home.  Combining love for her hometown, with the opportunities of her chosen career field, so far, seems to be a perfect match for the new graduate. 


The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

1 year 1 day ago

Shanakay Osbourne has been in a unique position, as one of the few students to participate in 20/20 Leadership for three years instead of two.  She is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the program, especially as it was a program day to the University of Central Missouri that helped solidify her decision to attend the college.


17-year-old Shanakay is a native of Kingston, Jamaica and moved to the United States when she was eight years old for what she describes as “a better opportunity.”  Initially, she found it hard to adjust and credits her elementary teachers for their assistance in helping her to adjust to the culture and language.  That support, along with work on her school’s 20/20 Olympics projects, has pushed Shanakay to her chosen field of study: social work.


In her second year in 20/20 Leadership, she had a chance to work with students in the special education program at her alma mater, Ruskin High School, and educate them on healthy lifestyles.  As a senior, Shanakay and her team decided to work with children involved in Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts.


She also credits the 20/20 Leadership program with helping her learn professionalism, as well as skills that will be needed for the workforce.  Although she describes herself as quiet and shy, she said, “20/20 got me more involved and I was able to meet students from different schools.” This skill will be beneficial for her in the next chapter as she looks forward to meeting new people from a variety of places during her college career in Warrensburg.


Reflecting on the night that she was named a Royals Scholar, Shanakay remembers being surprised, happy and proud all at once.  She initially planned to attend Penn Valley Community College, being mindful of college costs and expenses.  Now armed with a $10,000 scholarship from the Kansas City Royals, she is able to be the first in her family to attend a four-year institution, in pursuit of her dream to help others.


The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

1 year 1 week ago

The pressure to succeed in school and in life was placed on Power Lee by his parents from an early age and understandably so.  Neither one of his parents had the opportunity to be formally educated as they migrated from Laos to the United States during the Vietnam War.   Power has watched two older siblings make their attempts at college, however, they have not completed their degrees.  With pride, he looks forward to being the first person in his family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.


Power graduated from F.L. Schlagle High School in Kansas City, Kansas and will continue his educational journey at William Jewell College, armed with a $10,000 scholarship from the Kansas City Royals and a variety of experiences.  Those experiences include participation in the Asian Awareness Club, Battle of the Brains and 20/20 Leadership.   He says that program days that included visits to college campuses were the most beneficial for him. “20/20 Leadership is a great program that teaches you a lot and gives you resources to succeed,” he says.


Power, along with several teammates, planned an executed “Smart and Healthy Stallions,” their 20/20 Olympics project focused on teaching students about the importance of exercising and eating well.  The theme of the project fit into Power’s personal habits and he has been inspired to pursue a goal of becoming a personal trainer.  He has participated in track and field as a high school student, teaching himself how to throw the shot put by watching the Olympic games.


In reflection, Power has learned from his experiences, watching others and in between, has recognized the importance of being a leader for others.   He holds himself responsible for his three younger siblings and even took on the role of tutor for Schlagle’s football team.  “It was a great experience for me because I got to help out my teammates and create a stronger bond among the team,” he says.




The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

1 year 2 weeks ago

Between coursework for four Advanced Placement classes, two part-time jobs and preparing for college, Angie Littlefield has been busy over the last year, to say the least.  However, she made it through her entire high school career, as she says, with little to no support from her family.  “I felt like I had to grow up fast and learn independence,” a lesson she believes will help as she transitions from William Chrisman High School to the University of Central Missouri in the fall.  Watching her family members endure personal struggles has contributed to the determination she will carry with her when she leaves. 

As she advances on to the next chapter, Angie will have the distinction of being named a Royals Scholar, along with other academic accolades.  Before entering middle school, such honors seemed out of reach, including the prospect of graduating from high school.  “Things clicked for me during the second semester of my freshman year,” she says.  She began running cross country and also participated in Youth Entrepreneurs, a program that teaches students about developing their own businesses.   

Angie’s goal is to study accounting at UCM and was surprised that she liked the campus after visiting.  “Initially, I wanted to check it off my list, but I actually enjoyed the visit.”  Leaving Independence and heading to Warrensburg as a KC Royals Scholar will make the difference for a self-described frugal individual.  “Because of this scholarship, I won’t have to go into debt to attend college.” Angie also earned the Phil Roberts Scholarship through the Independence School District, an award worth $8000 over her college career.

Even considering the monetary value of the scholarship award from the Kansas City Royals, the opportunity to participate in 20/20 Leadership, one that came at the end of her sophomore year, was priceless. Angie was drawn to the program because of its reputation at Chrisman as a program, reserved for top students.  “Not everyone could join the program,” she said and admittedly, she saw it first as an opportunity to leave class.  “Eventually, I saw program days as opportunities to gain information that can be used in the future.“

The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Kansas City Royals and Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

1 year 2 weeks ago

Between coursework for four Advanced Placement classes, two part-time jobs and preparing for college, Angie Littlefield has been busy over the last year, to say the least.  However, she made it through her entire high school career, as she says, with little to no support from her family.  “I felt like I had to grow up fast and learn independence,” a lesson she believes will help as she transitions from William Chrisman High School to the University of Central Missouri in the fall.  Watching her family members endure personal struggles has contributed to the determination she will carry with her when she leaves. 

As she advances on to the next chapter, Angie will have the distinction of being named a Royals Scholar, along with other academic accolades.  Before entering middle school, such honors seemed out of reach, including the prospect of graduating from high school.  “Things clicked for me during the second semester of my freshman year,” she says.  She began running cross country and also participated in Youth Entrepreneurs, a program that teaches students about developing their own businesses.   

Angie’s goal is to study accounting at UCM and was surprised that she liked the campus after visiting.  “Initially, I wanted to check it off my list, but I actually enjoyed the visit.”  Leaving Independence and heading to Warrensburg as a Royals Scholar will make the difference for a self-described frugal individual.  “Because of this scholarship, I won’t have to go into debt to attend college.” Angie also earned the Phil Roberts Scholarship through the Independence School District, an award worth $8000 over her college career.

Even considering the monetary value of the scholarship award from the Kansas City Royals, the opportunity to participate in 20/20 Leadership, one that came at the end of her sophomore year, was priceless. Angie was drawn to the program because of its reputation at Chrisman as a program, reserved for top students.  “Not everyone could join the program,” she said and admittedly, she saw it first as an opportunity to leave class.  “Eventually, I saw program days as opportunities to gain information that can be used in the future.“

1 year 3 weeks ago

As a junior in 20/20 Leadership, Brandon Birch earned the Above and Beyond Award, an honor bestowed upon students whose participation in the program goes beyond expectations.  This year, he was selected as a recipient of the Great Achiever Scholarship because of his continued contributions to the program and was excited to learn that a $1,000 scholarship came along with this honor.  Two weeks later, he was shocked to learn that he was being named an MLB-KC Royals Scholar and earning a $10,000 scholarship. "It let me know that my hard work was not in vain," he said. 

Brandon admits that he did not always take school seriously.  As a 5th grader, he transferred from Kansas City Christian, a private school to Wendell Phillips Elementary School in the Kansas City Public School District.  Around the same time, he was also diagnosed with vitiligo, a disease that impacts skin pigmentation.  “I used to hope that people didn’t notice, but I do believe it helped me grow into the person I am today,” he said. 

The confidence Brandon developed over time is something that he wanted other students at his beloved Northeast High School to experience.  He noticed that his classmates walked around with their heads down and he felt it was his job to remind them of their importance and self-worth.  Brandon led 20/20 Leadership students in the development of “I Am Me,” their 20/20 Olympics project focused on helping students find confidence and build self-esteem. 

Brandon continues to build his confidence and skills through his involvement in 20/20 Leadership and service as class president.  He is also a member of the Kansas City Boys Choir, as well as a choir director and pianist at his church. Brandon will continue his passion for music as a field of study this fall at Lincoln University. Although he cites both anxiety and excitement about the next chapter, Brandon will spend the summer at Lincoln participating in the bridge program designed to ease the transition from the high school to undergraduate level.

Brandon will be the first in his family to attend college and aims to return to the halls of Northeast after graduation to teach. 



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