Every once in a while, life offers us a chance to turn our dreams into reality. For me, that opportunity came in the form of the 4-H Canada Leadership Excellence Awards of Distinction (L.E.A.D.). Receiving this scholarship was a life-changing opportunity that not only lightened the financial burden of education, but also opened doors to a world of possibilities.

A L.E.A.D scholarship altered the course of Riley’s life and set his educational goals in motion.
Photo Credit: © 4-H Canada

Growing up, I always believed in the power of education. I saw it as the major step to unlocking a future filled with endless opportunities. However, the path to higher education appeared to be a difficult one, considering the rising costs of tuition, textbooks, and living expenses. My family, like many others, recognized the financial constraints that would make attending university a challenge.

Then came the pivotal moment when I learned about the L.E.A.D. scholarship, a program that would alter the course of my life. I vividly remember the day I received the phone call letting me know I had been selected as one of the recipients. It felt like I had been handed the keys to my future—a future that was now well within reach.

One of the most remarkable aspects of being a L.E.A.D. scholar is the recognition of your hard work and potential. It was as if a panel of judges had seen something in me that I didn’t fully see in myself. This not only boosted my confidence, but also instilled a deep sense of responsibility, and I was determined to make the most of this opportunity.

The L.E.A.D. scholarship program is more than just financial aid; it is an investment in future leaders and change-makers. It provided not only financial support, but also access to a network of like-minded individuals who share a passion for learning and making a difference in the world. This network has been invaluable in my journey.

Attending the University of New Brunswick as a L.E.A.D. scholar opened doors to a world of academic and personal growth. I was able to choose courses that truly interested me, explore my passions, and engage in extracurricular activities that enriched my life. Beyond the classroom, I met inspiring professors and mentors who guided me on my academic path as a student in biology and chemistry.

With financial support from the L.E.A.D. scholarship, Riley attended the University of New Brunswick as a biology and chemistry student. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the University of New Brunswick

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my L.E.A.D. scholar experience has been giving back to the community. Many scholarships come with an expectation of community service or involvement, and I wholeheartedly embraced this aspect. Through my continued volunteering and community outreach in the 4-H program, I strengthened the importance that empathy, gratitude, and social responsibility have in my life.

Receiving the L.E.A.D. scholarship is not just about what it does for the recipient, but also about what it represents. It symbolizes the power of education to transform lives. It represents the belief that talent and potential should be supported, regardless of one's financial background. It reminds us that a single opportunity can be the catalyst for a lifetime of achievement.

As I reflect on my journey as a L.E.A.D. scholar, I am filled with gratitude for the organizations and individuals who made this opportunity possible. I am deeply aware of the responsibility that came with this privilege. I am also grateful for the opportunities that 4-H has given me to travel across the country and meet other members and leaders at Members Forum, Citizenship Congress, and Leadership Summit. My goal was not only to excel academically, but also to pay it forward by becoming a leader and mentor in my 4-H club and within my community.

Attending Leadership Summit was one of the many opportunities Riley had during his time as a 4-H member. Photo Credit: © 4-H Canada

My journey as a L.E.A.D. scholar has been a testament to the power of education and the impact of a single opportunity. 4-H has taught me that dreams can be realized, barriers can be overcome, and with determination and support, the sky is truly the limit. This has led me to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming an airline pilot by enrolling in the Integrated Commercial Pilot Course at MFC Training. Following my graduation from this program, I hope to be able to build my experience as a pilot, and eventually land myself a seat as a captain for a major Canadian airline.

Riley is pursuing his dream to become a pilot, and is enrolled in the Integrated Commercial Pilot Course at MFC Training.
Photo Credit:
Courtesy of MFC Training

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