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Leadership Academy: Through the lens of a First-Year Student

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My name is Luke Scanlon and I am a senior at Hopkinton High School. I think of myself as a typical kid. I like hanging out with my friends, watching movies, and doing fun things. I haven’t always been one to step too far outside my comfort zone.

In 2021 my mother passed from cancer. As you can probably imagine, it changed my world in all of the worst ways possible. There was a lot of confusion and grief in my home for a long time. It was tough to adapt to that.

Last Spring my dad (unbeknownst to me) signed me up for a “Leadership Academy“. I just hated the sound of it. As a teenage boy who treasures his summers, a week-long camp that teaches you about leadership and has a strict schedule didn’t have much appeal.

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Months passed and it seemed like every week I asked my father if I had to go. He said yes every time. So the week finally came and we made the trek to UMass Amherst, where the academy is held. When I arrived I was immediately greeted by many of my classmates from Hopkinton. I confess that made the dread go away a bit.

Right away we were divided into groups of eight. No one knew each other, but that was the beauty of it. Everyone started walking so I followed. We arrived in an auditorium where Katy Perry was playing and all the teachers were dancing on the tables. I was totally confused for a lack of better words. I think a lot of people were.

I sat down and a man with a huge smile on his face starts talking. His name is Evren (Coach Ev to me now). He filled us in on what is going to happen during the week. I was still miserable when the meeting ended, thinking “what am I doing here?”.

But by Day 3 I had completely come around. That’s when I realized the power of this organization. This academy is special. For so many reasons, the energy and the people there make you want to bring your best self out. Looking back I am so glad I went. It was easily one of the best weeks of my life. Evren has created something seriously amazing in the way he teaches while making learning enjoyable. So many people return to the academy for those exact reasons. People want to feel good about themselves. Mindset is such a huge part of self-worth.

A lot of kids who attend the leadership academy probably felt the same way I did at the start, and definitely the same way I did at the end. This video, which features another Hopkinton student, sums it up.

Since my mom passed away my mindset has made a complete 180. While yes, my mom passing was awful in all the ways you can imagine, it helped me too, and in part, I thank Evren for that. The Leadership Academy came to me at a time in my life when I needed it most.

I hope to see some new faces at the academy next year!

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