20/20 Leadership Blog

9 months 4 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.

10 months 5 days 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.

10 months 1 week 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.

10 months 2 weeks 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.

10 months 3 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.“

10 months 3 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.

11 months 3 days 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. 



11 months 3 days 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. 




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

Before participating in 20/20 Leadership, Gary Bradley-Lopez knew that he wanted to leave home as soon as the opportunity presented itself.  With the many negative perceptions of Wyandotte County, including the distinction of being named one of the least healthy counties in the state, it was difficult for him to see what opportunities existed for him.  One of the first experiences students have with 20/20 Leadership as juniors is a visit to Quindaro Ruins, a county landmark where years ago, slaves escaped the state of Missouri to find freedom in Kansas.

“Neither my father nor my mother knew about it,” Gary said.  “But seeing it was a feeling that I won’t ever forget because it was a site of gratefulness and release of the cruel world of oppression.”   This was just the beginning of transformative experiences for Gary that came from involvement in 20/20 Leadership.  After having the opportunity to learn more about the Kansas City metropolitan area through the program, including politics on the local and state level, he was sold on staying around.

Upon graduating from Wyandotte High School, Gary will continue his education at Kansas City Kansas Community College.  He is contemplating a variety of majors, but his long-term goal is to major in speech theater education and return to the high school that played a role in shaping him.  Through this goal, Gary aims to stay close to his community and produce change from within.  He is also inspired by the notion of setting an example for future students at his alma mater.  “There are not many teachers of color and I want to help change that,” he said.

Gary can look to the Kansas City Royals for a lesson in what can be achieved with patience and dedication.   Just as the champions experienced setbacks before their World Series appearance in 2014 and eventual win in 2015, Gary believes that his personal homerun came after being named a Royals All-Star Scholar.  “I was determined to win that scholarship and I did whatever I had to do to earn it.”


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

Before participating in 20/20 Leadership, Gary Bradley-Lopez knew that he wanted to leave home as soon as the opportunity presented itself.  With the many negative perceptions of Wyandotte County, including the distinction of being named one of the least healthy counties in the state, it was difficult for him to see what opportunities existed for him.  One of the first experiences students have with 20/20 Leadership as juniors is a visit to Quindaro Ruins, a county landmark where years ago, slaves escaped the state of Missouri to find freedom in Kansas.

“Neither my father nor my mother knew about it,” Gary said.  “But seeing it was a feeling that I won’t ever forget because it was a site of gratefulness and release of the cruel world of oppression.”   This was just the beginning of transformative experiences for Gary that came from involvement in 20/20 Leadership.  After having the opportunity to learn more about the Kansas City metropolitan area through the program, including politics on the local and state level, he was sold on staying around.

Upon graduating from Wyandotte High School, Gary will continue his education at Kansas City Kansas Community College.  He is contemplating a variety of majors, but his long-term goal is to major in speech theater education and return to the high school that played a role in shaping him.  Through this goal, Gary aims to stay close to his community and produce change from within.  He is also inspired by the notion of setting an example for future students at his alma mater.  “There are not many teachers of color and I want to help change that,” he said.

Gary can look to the Kansas City Royals for a lesson in what can be achieved with patience and dedication.   Just as the champions experienced setbacks before their World Series appearance in 2014 and eventual win in 2015, Gary believes that his personal homerun came after being named a Royals All-Star Scholar.  “I was determined to win that scholarship and I did whatever I had to do to earn it.”



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