2018 Grant Award: Bryel Frasch

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to not only further my academic goals but also foster my skills as a leader by working for Penn State as a LEAP Mentor! A LEAP Mentor is an upperclassman student that is assigned to a small group of freshmen who live on campus over the summer while getting a head start with classes. I was appointed as the Mentor of the Aurora Pride of 25 students. This position has opened my eyes to the wide variety of leadership that can exist situationally and how to adapt my skills to fit a job’s needs.

As a Mentor, I was responsible for: assisting incoming first-year students enrolled in the LEAP program with their transition to Penn State’s University Park campus, working collaboratively with faculty, staff, and fellow Mentors to provide LEAP students with a rewarding and memorable Penn State experience, providing academic support, and planning enriching social activities for students. The position, historically, has an extremely challenging reputation in the sense that we have a substantial influence on the way an incoming freshman will view Penn State and its culture. This is the student’s first experience on the big campus and their first-time taking college level courses. My job stretched far beyond leadership, day to day my responsibilities hit new levels. For some, I was the all-knowing upper classmen that could tell them how to find specific buildings on campus or tell them how to work Canvas. For others, I was a friend that kept away the homesickness.

It wasn’t always easy. Keep in mind, the LEAP student were only two years younger than me and some were closer to my age than I expected! I had to adjust the way I approached being a leader in order to make a true impact and pass on all the wonderful opportunities Penn State has to offer. The job quickly became an older sibling-younger sibling dynamic and I assumed a very powerful stance as a role model. The line between mentorship and friendship was purposely blurred and I never lost the respect that comes along with being a good leader.

The journey was so rewarding because, on many occasions, the students inspired me! Their eagerness and energy to begin the next chapter in their lives was contagious and I’m so lucky I was able to be a small part of their college experience. I was more than their LEAP Mentor. We talked about our backgrounds and life hardships. Each student had different goals and dream careers, yet we will all be connected by this one summer.

On top of life changing leadership experience, I was furthering my academic goals by taking two classes! I am currently majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in Business. As one can imagine, this calls for a heavy course load. Having the opportunity to stay on campus with this job and generous grant, I was able to get a few credits under my belt and keep my goal of graduating on time in May of 2020 alive! I can’t thank Presidential Leadership Academy enough for allowing me this opportunity to grow as an academic student, as a leader, and as a role model.