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20/20 Leadership Blog

1 year 1 month ago

In front of a crowd of more than 2,000 professionals, Naya Boyd shined. A senior at Paseo Academy, Naya was selected to speak at the annual Greater KC Chamber of Commerce dinner based on her participation in 20/20 Leadership. 

When asked how she felt about being asked to represent 20/20 at this event, Naya said she was nervous.  "I was nervous until I walked up to the stage.  I couldn't even eat," she said.

Naya spoke about her own aspirations to open her own child care facility and made an important ask to the audience, requesting that they each put education first, before anything else. It wasn’t an easy task, but practice and confidence carried her through. She was able to work with a speechwriter to perfect her words and delivery. 

What was the most exciting part of the experience for her? Giving the speech and hearing the applause from the audience, she stated.

In addition to participating in 20/20 Leadership, Naya is a member of the inaugural class of KC Scholars, receiving scholarship support and coaching for her educational endeavors for up to five years.

“We were very proud of Naya as she represented 20/20 Leadership at this event. She has always given her best as a member of the program and we couldn’t have selected a better student to be on stage that night,” Crystal Everett, Program Director, said.

1 year 5 months ago

She describes herself as ambitious, eager and determined and she's off to college!

Arieanna Boyd, a recent graduate of Lincoln College Prep and current student at the University of Missouri - Columbia, was awarded Nita's Great Achiever Scholarship in April 2017. 

She answered a few questions for us as she begins her post-secondary journey:

Who and/or what motivates you?

My family motivates me the most. They encourage me to do my best at all times. They always tell to do better than what our family has done.

What are your career plans and why did you choose Mizzou?

My career plans are to go to Mizzou to pursue a career in accounting. They have a business path that will allow me to receive a Bachelor and Master’s degree within 5 years. This will be a rigorous course but I believe I can do anything I set my mind to do.  I chose Mizzou because it was the best fit for me. Mizzou is not too far away from home and not to close to home. There are so many opportunities for me when I go there and I can't wait to explore the whole campus.


What challenges do you anticipate facing when you begin college?

I anticipate having too much free time on my hands. Having too much free time on my hands can lead to procrastination on different assignments. Another challenge I may have in college would be test anxiety. I say this because I always have worry before I take major exams or test.

Design the perfect 20/20 Leadership program day.

My perfect 20/20 day would be bring-a-friend day. This will help spread the organizations to different schools and people. This would be an opportunity to show what 20/20 Leadership is really about. It's not just a field trip day out of school as everyone at my school says it is. It's a learning experience that shows you the real world and how to take on everyday task in life. It's a very informing organization and it help you build long term relationships with people from other backgrounds. 

What does earning this scholarship mean to you?

Earning this scholarship meant a lot to me. I say this because many people probably filled the same application out as me. When I first filled this scholarship out, I wasn't looking forward to the Great Achiever Scholarship. Earning this scholarship has helped me because I was able to get a brand new laptop for school. This scholarship has shown me that anything is possible if you set your mind to the task.

1 year 6 months ago

“I try to make everyday the best it can be,” says Jordan Shiao, a recent graduate of Bonner Springs High School and Royals Charities Scholar.  “I learned at a young age to be positive in any situation,” she says.

Throughout her life, it would have been easy to note the negative parts of life.  Jordan’s mother was diagnosed with cancer during her early high school years, requiring Jordan to step up and help take care of her siblings.  By taking on the role of caretaker, she learned independence from an early age, a skill that will be an asset as she moves to Lawrence, Kansas in the fall.  Since the cancer diagnosis and subsequent remission, her mother has  remarried, adding more siblings to their family.  She reflects on the fun they have together through family dinners and card games. “I feel blessed to have my family,” she says.

Stepping up to serve as a leader has continued as Jordan also took on a leadership role among the Bonner Springs Junior Leaders as they developed and executed their 20/20 Olympics project in 2016.  She was nominated by her peers to lead the “Get Your Mind Right” project, focusing on mental health and ways that students could reduce stress.  The project turned out to be a week of activities, culminating to the final home basketball game of the season.  Funds collected during the week from raffle prizes were donated to Ronald McDonald House to support families dealing with the stress of having a child with a long-term illness.

Jordan learned about the University of Kansas after moving from Colorado to Kansas in the second grade and always knew she would eventually be a Jayhawk.  Her first career goal was to work as a pharmacist based on her grades in chemistry.  As she continued to help take care of her family, Jordan began considering nursing as an option.  Jordan has already completed her CNA license, taking some experience in the field with her on the road to becoming a nurse.

As she transitions to life as a college freshman, Jordan recognizes the challenges that will come with being away from her family, but also looks forward to exploring sorority life and meeting her roommate.  Tackling new experiences is something that Jordan is familiar with.  Jordan says she was unfamiliar with the 20/20 Leadership program until teachers recommended she participate.  It wasn’t until she attended orientation in July 2015 that she realized how much she would learn from the program. “Without 20/20 Leadership, I would not have a resume or business cards and I know that I am more well off moving forward because of the program,” she says.

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

1 year 7 months ago

Since 2012, more than $250,000 has been awarded to 20/20 Leadership students in support of their educational endeavors by the Royals Charities.  As part of the award, scholars are presented on the field before their families and Royals fans.  Students and families arrive about 90 minutes before the game to receive instructions.  They also get a chance to visit the press briefing room before hitting the field.
It is always a fun opportunity for the scholars and definitely a highlight of the summer!  We thank the Royals Charities team for their continued support.
Jordan, graduate of Bonner Springs High School, is off to the University of Kansas.

William graduated from Turner High School and is attending Kansas City Kansas Community College.

Janeth graduated from Ruskin High School and is attending the University of Missouri - Kansas City.

Washington High School graduate, Malachi, is attending Wichita State University in the fall.

Alicia, graduate of J.C. Harmon High School, is attending Kansas State University.
Students getting direction from Royals staff about the on-field presentation.

1 year 7 months ago

Summer 2016 served as a pivotal point for KC Royals Charities Scholar Malachi Hibler and his family.  His older twin brothers, Myles and Michael, had been involved in a car accident, leaving Myles with a severe neck injury.  Shortly afterward, Malachi began to feel overwhelmed with the absence of his mother, who spent much of her time in Nebraska with Myles as he began rehabilitation.  Once the feeling of being overwhelmed passed, strength began to form.  “Overall, the situation helped me become stronger as a person and now I understand the tools needed to care for others,” he said.

As the family adjusts to their new normal and continues to grow closer as a result of their lifestyle change, Malachi continues to forge his own path.  Born six years after his twin brothers, Malachi never attended high school with them, but at times, believed that he lived within their shadows.  As high school students, they also participated in 20/20 Leadership and offered positive sentiments about the program.  Ultimately after participating for himself, Malachi came to enjoy and appreciate the program, crediting the program for helping him develop the confidence to meet new people and network.

Networking will be a major key for the rising college freshman, who looks forward to exploring intramurals and Greek life once arriving on campus at Wichita State University in the fall. As a student at Washington, he was involved in a number of organizations including: 100 Men Strong, Link Crew, National Honor Society, as well as the school’s baseball team.  Malachi plans to major in business at the university that he calls “a home away from home.”  Along with the business major, he will add a minor in computer science, with the ultimate goal of opening his own business.  “Entrepreneurship is intriguing,” he says.

As the last of the five KC Royals Charities Scholarship winners to be announced at the annual Shining Stars Awards Celebration, Malachi remembers sitting nervously in anticipation of hearing his name.  He already knew that he was in fact a contender for the scholarship after being invited to an interview in February.  A phone call from his mother, along with seeing his family in attendance at the event made him question the outcome, but he continued to pray and wait patiently.  Malachi knew in fact he was a winner after hearing “Washington High School” and couldn’t be more grateful for the scholarship.  “I want to thank the Royals and 20/20 Leadership for the opportunity,” he expressed.

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

1 year 8 months ago

As a young child, Janeth Lopez was taught that she could be anything she wanted to.  With that message, she set her sights on pursuing a career in the medical field.  She also understood from a young age the power of medicine and its ability to change lives and help people at the same time.  As a freshman in high school, Janeth had dreams of becoming a nurse, but now says that she is focused on becoming a surgeon.  On the path to becoming Dr. Lopez, Janeth is also armed with a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) license, earned during her senior year at Ruskin High School.

She will enter the University of Missouri - Kansas City this fall, majoring in biology.  UMKC has been a familiar place as Janeth has taken dual credit courses at the university and participated in pipeline programs that have offered exposure to the medical field.  She also looks forward to the entering into what she calls a diverse and great environment in the heart of the city. “I still plan to live at home with my parents, as I have a great support system in my family,” Janeth adds.

The idea of family is an important one for the hardworking honor student.  Janeth, growing up in a household with her parents and two younger sisters, is the first in her family to attend college.  “It is my responsibility to set the example,” she says.  Janeth has already demonstrated quite the example for her sisters to follow, considering she already has a resume that includes four years of ROTC, the school soccer team, student council, as well as seven years in orchestra.  Additionally, she volunteers at St. Joseph Medical Center. 

The effort that Janeth has displayed as a student and a scholar paid off for her, by way of earning the KC Royals Charities Scholarship this year.  She admittedly was nervous as she attended the Shining Stars Awards Celebration in April and says that the interview via FaceTime didn’t help her nerves either.  “After the interview, I kept thinking about how I made it one step further,” she recalls.  Once her name was announced, Janeth began to remember the effort that she put in as a student and participant in 20/20 Leadership. “It showed me that I could do it,” she says.

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

1 year 8 months ago

With a father and grandfather who served in the U.S. Navy, William Crow thought that might be destined for a career in the military as well.  However, with new opportunities and experiences provided to him by participating in the 20/20 Leadership program, he will begin classes at Kansas City Kansas Community College in August 2017, as a Kansas City Royals Charities Scholar.

As scholarship winners were announced on April 20, William heard pieces of his essay and knew he in fact won the $10,000 scholarship.  “I knew those were my words, but I was still in shock,” he remembers.  He also remembers the sense of confidence he had even before being notified that he was in fact one of the top ten finalists.  The sense of confidence was instilled in William by his older brother, who reminded him of these words, “If you want things to happen, they will.”

He thinks back to when he first learned of 20/20 as a sophomore at Turner High School and admittedly, wasn’t as involved in other extracurricular activities. William saw 20/20 Leadership as a program that provided new experiences, such as meeting with professionals at the annual Business Expo and an opportunity to give back to his community through the 20/20 Olympics projects.  William and his team worked for two years to secure $7,500 in funding for their project, Brightening Turner.  The money raised will be used toward the lighting of a futsal court at Midland Trail Elementary School. 

William plans to stay local after graduation, a move he describes as “cost-efficient.”  He will complete his general education courses at Kansas City Kansas Community College and transfer to the University of Kansas to earn a degree in journalism.  His next goal is to start a blog, sharing a variety of personal interests, including sports.  William also looks forward to working as a correspondent during international conflicts, with the ability to report back to viewers in the United States.  He also plans to use his platform to raise awareness about autism.  William’s youngest sister is autistic and he is inspired by his mother’s work with Autism Speaks.

The KC Royals scholarship is made possible by a generous donation from the Royals Charities.  Participants in 20/20 Leadership are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
1 year 9 months ago

As a sophomore at J.C. Harmon High School, Alicia Alonso wasn’t initially informed about the 20/20 Leadership program until teachers encouraged her to apply.  She was intrigued by the opportunity to develop leadership skills, plus the program’s tout of providing assistance with college preparation. After hearing that, Alicia was sold and bought in even more after learning of the scholarship opportunities.  She made it a goal to be named as one of the five Royals Charities Scholars as a senior and her dedication paid off.  “I started working on my essay as soon as the questions were available and even had five teachers review it for me,” she said.

On the evening of the Shining Stars Awards Celebration, the event where scholarship winners are announced, the soccer captain had a game. “I was hoping I missed the game for a good reason,” she said with a smile.

Alicia is the oldest of three and will be the first in her family to attend college.  As the oldest, she has always been tasked with the responsibility of setting the example for her 16-year-old sister and four-year-old brother.  “It is my job to show them the right way,” she said.

Those leadership skills that began within her home translated to her ability to lead Harmon’s 20/20 Olympics project for the last two years.  In 2016, the project team took third place for their idea of having an outdoor classroom on campus, another phase of the Harmon Hub.  Fundraising challenges for the project lead the students to an idea that could be completed before graduation: getting futsal courts.  As it turns out, city government officials were debating on a location and Harmon students met with commissioners, convincing them to put the court on their campus.  The second phase includes adding lights so that the courts can be used after dark.  The experience of talking and meeting with commissioners has also helped Alicia grow as a leader. “Before 20/20 Leadership, I didn’t even know who the commissioners were and now, I’ve gotten a chance to know them and my community even better as a result of the program.”

Even though her parents did not attend college, education has always been a focal point in their household.  Alicia remembers that her mother has always been involved in her educational endeavors, ensuring that she was taking the hardest courses that would be helpful for her in the future.  Her father was also the one who introduced her to Kansas State University.  The university, home to one of the top veterinary schools, has always been at the forefront of Alicia’s mind, so much so that she reluctantly applied to other colleges.  “I only applied to others because I had to,” she reflects. 

Alicia will be spending the summer working as an intern for CEVA Animal Health, an organization that makes vaccines for animals.  When she heads to Manhattan in August with all expenses covered after earning more than 10 scholarships, she anticipates minor challenges, but is more excited about the opportunities.  “I am fulfilling a lifelong dream, along with the ability to have new experiences and meet new people,” she said.

2 years 1 month ago


After graduating from Northwest Missouri State University, Dimitric Edwards welcomes the opportunity to return the halls of Lincoln College Preparatory Academy.  The school is not only his alma mater, but it is the place where he was inspired to become a teacher by one he looked up to as a student, Mr. Kevin Conway.  Becoming an educator is just one way he looks to pay it forward after many teachers, advisors and professors have paved the way for him.

Dimitric is not the first in his family to leave Kansas City for Maryville, Missouri as his older sister began attending the university before him.  Visiting her helped his familiarity with campus, but it was the relationships he was most concerned about.  “I didn’t want to be in my sister’s shadow, so my biggest worry had to do with making new friends,” he said. 

As it turns out, getting involved and meeting new people was not an issue for the English Education major, entering his junior year at the university. 

Dimitric has been involved with yearbook for the past two years.  He also serves as the president of the Student Missouri State Teachers Association and the Minority Men’s Club.  His advice to rising college students is simple: “You’ll get out as much as you put in. You’re not experiencing college if you just go to class and go to your room,” he said.

The advice of being active and engaged is another lesson he deems important for current 20/20 Leadership participants.  Dimitric joined the program after being recommended by a teacher and says that participating in the program was the best thing he did as a high school student.  His increased engagement played a role in him being named a KC Royals Scholar in 2014, along with an opportunity to be introduced on the field at a Royals game.

It seems that no matter where Dimitric lands, educating others is in his blood, both formally and informally.  While his initial goal is to work within a classroom, he welcomes the idea of teaching on the college level with the goal of inspiring future teachers.  “Return the favor and be a role model” are words that were imparted on him and represent thoughts that have not left his mind since. 

2 years 2 months ago

Stephanie DeSpain graduated from J.C. Harmon High School in 2009 and began attending Kansas State University immediately afterward.  While she enjoyed the experience on campus, finances dictated that she needed to return home to Kansas City, Kansas.  Stephanie started taking courses at Johnson County Community College, working toward a business degree.  However, she soon discovered a new passion and path: cooking.

Almost 10 years after completing high school, Stephanie is now an entrepreneur and owner of Pyet’s Plate.  She says the most rewarding part is the ability to be as creative as she wants.  “My name is behind my food, talent, sweat and tears,” she said.  She recognizes the challenges that come with building clientele, but overall, she is happy with her decision to start her own business.

Recognizing, understanding and overcoming challenges is something that Stephanie says she learned from her two years as a 20/20 Leadership participant.  “My favorite part is that we didn’t just see successful people.  We saw what happens when you make mistakes or don’t meet your full potential,” she said. 

Stephanie was introduced to the program by her high school advisor and at first, she was unsure of what the experience would bring. She says her peers thought it was just a program to get out of school, but she saw it as an additional learning opportunity.  “I was surprised, impressed and I truly enjoyed everything,” she remembers.

She was part of the group that started the discussion about the Harmon Hub, a ½ mile trail that was built in 2014.  Stephanie and the other 20/20 Leadership students were interested in leaving a legacy at their school, even after they graduated.  As a 20/20 alumna, Stephanie regularly gives of her time and talents to the organization.  Most notably, she has served on the scholarship selection committee for the past few years, assisting other alumni with evaluating scholarship applications and naming winners.