Skip to Main Content
LEAD Scholars
thumb
Amy Maitner
UCF Class of 2016

"When I first came to UCF, I had a hard time finding my way. I moved here from a military base in Germany, and being away from friends and family was extremely overwhelming. LEAD Scholars became my home away from home. In a school of 60,000, LEAD Scholars was able to create an intimate and personalized experience that I will forever be grateful for. My involvement with LEAD grew to acquiring the position of Peer Mentor and attending three LEAD-specific Alternative Break Program trips, and with it my confidence flourished. LEAD Scholars gave me the tools I needed to become an independent leader and follow my passions. I am a women’s and gender studies minor, and LEAD Scholars further helped me focus on this passion through the Inspire Women’s Leadership Program. Inspire created a community of empowerment for young college women, and we would meet throughout the semester to talk about a range of topics—anything from current trends and their effect on women, to Emma Watson’s UN Speech. LEAD Scholars has helped me hone my leadership skills as a whole and connect further with the UCF community. I can thank LEAD for helping me become a member of the President’s Leadership Council, and I know that I am prepared for the adventures that lie ahead."

thumb
Todd Currie
UCF Class of 2015

“LEAD Scholars not only helped me to become successful during my time at UCF, but has continued to help me by defining my career path. My involvement as a LEAD Scholar connected me with organizations, friends, and mentors that inspired me to discover my passion. LEAD instilled in me the knowledge, skills, and confidence to pursue this passion as a career. I am extremely grateful to LEAD Scholars and to the outstanding staff for the positive impact they have had on me and for the guidance and support I know they will always provide to me.”

thumb
Dwayne Houston
UCF Class of 2015

“LEAD Scholars equipped me with the tools to successfully transcend past the barriers of society to serve my community, while achieving professional success. My experience as a LEAD Scholar provided me with outstanding networking and research opportunities that equipped me with the intangible experience to make an impact at a post graduate level. From what I learned inside the classroom to what I gained outside  of it, the LEAD Scholars Academy made me a well rounded student ready to change the world.”

thumb
Julien Meyer
UCF Class of 2014

"When I first came to UCF I can honestly say I did not know what to expect. As a freshman student coming to Florida from New York I had all of the natural worries associated with college such as not being able to find my classes and not knowing anyone on campus. One thing I knew was that I had signed up to attend the LEAD Scholars REEL Retreat a few days before school started. Immediately, I knew that LEAD was where I belong. Within a matter of hours I had made a ton of friends, learned things about others and myself and most importantly was excited to be attending UCF. During my time at UCF, the LEAD Scholars Program helped me to achieve so much more than what I expected from UCF. Not only did LEAD help me to win the Order of Pegasus award but my network through the program helped me to start and successfully run my first business CollegeStack, a local Orlando based marketing firm. My experiences through the LEAD program gave me the skills necessary to lead a company of over 18 employees, which we grew to over a quarter million in revenue in just under 3 years. Furthermore, this experience gave me the opportunity to give back to the UCF community and fund the annual CollegeStack entrepreneurial scholarship in hospitality at the Rosen College. After a successful exit from CollegeStack, I now run BlurtBox, a digital hospitality analytics firm as the chief executive officer and I attribute a great deal of my success back to not just UCF but specifically to LEAD scholars. LEAD taught me so much about servant leadership and the power of networking that I developed these skills to a point where they became second nature. Learning to inspire and motivate others through the program has proven to be my most valuable skill as a leader in the business world. I’m proud not only to call myself a UCF Knight but a LEAD Scholars Alumni. Congratulations to LEAD on this new wonderful space and to all current and former LEAD Scholars. Go Knights.

thumb
Kaitlyn Chana
UCF Class of 2013

"Leadership is not a position or title, it is an action or example that constantly needs to be challenged. As an NBC reporter, I pull from my experiences I learned from LEAD Scholars by demonstrating what’s possible, being an excellent listener, and assisting through my communication skills. Reflecting is a huge component; I meet people on their best or worst days of their lives and it’s important that I can empathize with them.”

thumb
John Gibison, Jr.
UCF Class of 2013

"The impact of applying to LEAD Scholars was not apparent immediately, but I’m still seeing and experiencing the effect years later. Throughout college and in the adult workforce, I have applied what I have learned from my experiences as a LEAD Scholar to be a more effective leader. LEAD gave me an opportunity to work with the UCF Psychology department in my second year which directly lead to a 3-year internship. When it came to job searching, every employer that interviewed me for a position pulled LEAD right off of my resume and used it as a pivotal focus point. In fact, because of LEAD I was able to partake in a 2-year leadership program at Citibank where I am currently still employed. If you were to ask me as a senior in high school if that application would have directly correlated to my success, I would have said, “maybe”; but I now understand how that one simple decision has helped to shape the course of my career and benefited me as a person."

thumb
Jennifer Black Farinella
UCF Class of 2012

“The LEAD Scholars program simultaneously provided me with a foundation in my development, and a spring board to my future. The program and community is designed to assist individuals in cultivating their leadership abilities and talents, while also serving as a catalyst for students to pursue further opportunities on- and off-campus. LEAD Scholars equipped me with leadership training, confidence and support. LEAD Scholars became an organization that continually allowed me to explore passions and opened new doors of opportunity, including encouraging me to attain a Master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. The opportunity for a career in Student Affairs was a relatively unknown option to me at the age of 18; however, due to sincere relationships with mentors, encouragement to pursue dynamic education and involvement, and the supportive community, I quickly discovered this would be my career path and life's work.  LEAD Scholars assisted me beyond a two-year program-- to this day I still find support from the mentors of the program and through connections among LEAD Alumni.”

thumb
Jared Greenbaum
UCF Class of 2012

"The LEAD Scholars Academy offered me invaluable professional help that certainly kickstarted my career. From resume and cover letter workshops to practice interviews, my experiences with the program led to personal and professional confidence when sitting across the table from a potential employer."

thumb
A.J. Lakraj
UCF Class of 2012

"LEAD Scholars is a program that gives students unique opportunities to network and meet people who direct you in your career path. From great directors to fellow students, the opportunities in the LEAD Scholars program are endless. Personally, the program taught me how to focus not only on academics, but the process of connecting with people and exploring different ideas and cultures, while also expanding beliefs of your own. Those same qualities are the ones that helped me to easily connect with great personalities in the legal community today. I started LEAD Scholars pursuing a medical career but soon realized my passion for law. With the tools and techniques I learned in LEAD Scholars, and how to become a leader, I was able to pursue a career in law while also making an impact at Emory law school and in my career. Today I have attained a position as a labor and employment attorney at a well known law firm in Atlanta, partially based on the many values I learned in the LEAD Scholars program. Not only did the program benefit my career but it also contributed to my personal life and my communications with the outside world. It is a great honor and I am proud to say I graduated from such a great program!"

thumb
Arti Bagga
UCF Class of 2010

"The LEAD Scholars program provides practical knowledge on situations and circumstances widely faced in the workplace today. I have referred to material taught in as early as the Foundations of Leadership course in both the fields of business and higher education. The personality inventories, leadership theory, and practical components to the program are all very worth while. It is a result of this blend that I was able to build a foundation for myself that I count on both personally and professionally."

thumb
Jess Battaglia
UCF Class of 2009

"I'm so grateful for the people I met through LEAD Scholars. Though we all came from different backgrounds and had different personalities, together, we were able to make a difference in our community and begin to grow into the adults we are today. The lessons we learned were invaluable and have helped me in my career through something as simple as planning a meeting to managing a major project." 

thumb
Demetrius Frazier
UCF Class of 2009

I completed my Master in Business Administration and also my Master’s in Sports Business Management from the DeVos Program at UCF. Now I am the Market Sales Manager for the NBC Sports Groups, more specifically with the Golf Channel. I am responsible for overseeing a multimillion dollar budget for the Philadelphia / New Jersey Market. Specialized form of account management. We consult golf courses on everything from their pricing and branding to technology and advertising. Our team provides marketing and distribution solutions for golf courses, technology solutions, and many other services.

thumb
Dr. Naomi Brownstein
UCF Class of 2008

“The lessons I learned in LEAD Scholars have helped my with my career in academia. I learned how to work in large collaborative groups and understand and work with people with a variety of personality types. As an academic who regularly teaches introductory biostatistics courses, mentors students individually and in groups, and completes research projects with people from diverse fields and backgrounds, these leadership and interpersonal skills have been and will remain essential to my success.”

thumb
Mark Justice
UCF Class of 2008

"My participation in the LEAD Scholars Academy academic program provided a valuable structure as I transitioned into life as a freshman at UCF. Years later I find that one of my LEAD courses focused on project management was excellent preparation for the challenges of contributing effectively in a team environment. I’ve had the opportunity to call upon the fundamentals I learned in this course again and again during my professional career."

thumb
Dawn Aiello
UCF Class of 2006

"One thing I really value about my experience with LEAD Scholars is the time we spent learning about ourselves and how we interact with the people around us. My time in LEAD taught me about working with diverse groups of people, making connections with new people quickly, and learning when and how to best lead in any given situation. While my professional experiences in Education, Nonprofit Management, and now Photography have helped me refine these skills over the years, my time with LEAD Scholars gave me an invaluable foundation from which to grow. Without these skills, I would not be where I am today!“

thumb
Meredith Hein
UCF Class of 2005

"LEAD provided an incredible foundation for my career and life passion for student engagement, leadership development, and creating a campus culture deeply connected to its’ mission. My personal mission is to foster learning grounded in authenticity and integrity while also inspiring change and empowering our campus community in creative and diverse ways. It is quite evident that LEAD’s values guided my own.
LEAD also provided me an amazing foundation for the curricular and co-curricular opportunities I offer my own students. As educators it is our job to provide the tools, ultimately empowering students to create their own paths when they graduate, and that’s exactly what LEAD did for me.
During my tenure as an educator and reflecting back on my journey, LEAD taught me the importance of always being willing to learn, grow and develop as a practitioner, advisor, leader, and advocate in this field. I am forever indebted to the program, the people I had the opportunity to meet, and those who served (and continue to serve) as mentors to me."

thumb
Valerie Kielmovitch
UCF Class of 2005

"LEAD Scholars provided the foundation for my leadership, public speaking, and team effectiveness skills. This organization showed me that a career in student affairs/administration was possible, which led to my Master's degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs. The career pathway I have forged through my academic success and various professional positions at several universities, was made possible by the foundational skills I gained in LEAD Scholars."

thumb
Meara Lyons
UCF Class of 2005

 “LEAD Scholars was the perfect foundation for my professional career. This organization provided me with exceptional opportunities to learn outside the classroom, and have fun in the process. I cherished my time as part of this incredible group of smart, ambitious and thoughtful people. ”

thumb
Charlyn Stanberry
UCF Class of 2004

"LEAD Scholars was one of the main reasons I decided to attend UCF. This program gave me the unique opportunity to develop my leadership skills early on in my collegiate career in preparation for my professional career through group exercises, retreats plus networking and volunteer opportunities. Through LEAD Scholars, I was able to find my voice and confidence which has helped me excel as an attorney in DC."

thumb
Laura Matthews
UCF Class of 2004

"LEAD Scholars connected me to like-minded people in college that I have not only became very close friends, but have also turned into colleagues and professional connections – so from a networking perspective, I never would have predicted how beneficial that would turn out to be. Additionally, the mentoring program especially taught me so many interpersonal relationship skills that I use time and time again. I still utilize those skills I learned as a LEAD mentor when supervising staff in my office and managing or advising a team. I have also continued to volunteer at work as a mentor to both students and staff, and just last week I was sharing a story from my LEAD mentoring days to one of my new mentees. I realized early on, thanks to LEAD, how important that responsibility is and I am grateful to have had that opportunity so long ago to learn how to be an effective mentor."

thumb
Jaeann Ashton
UCF Class of 2003

LEAD Scholars provided me the foundation to succeed in both my college and professional careers. The program was a stepping stone to other leadership opportunities on campus, all of which helped prepare me for the "real world." Leadership training, the art of networking, and time management are skills I learned and developed during my time in LEAD, and ones I continue to use every day at work.

thumb
Helen Rubin
UCF Class of 2003

"The LEAD Scholars Program provided me with the opportunity to work on a team and be a leader within the program and on-campus. The experience helped me build my confidence in a leadership role, and I've directly applied a lot of the skills that I learned in my current role as a manager in a public accounting firm."

thumb
Dr. Sarah Kureshi
UCF Class of 2001

 “Some of my favorite and most meaningful memories of my time at UCF come through my experience in the LEAD Scholars Academy! It goes without saying that LEAD Scholars helped me with networking opportunities, teamwork skills, leadership lessons and service learning. Through all of those things LEAD Scholars helped me realize my strengths and weaknesses and really pushed me to "think outside of the box" in terms of how to make change and how to challenge myself. I carried those valuable lessons with me throughout medical school, residency and fellowship and now use them while I'm in clinic to provide the best care to my patients and while I'm teaching to provide the best learning environments for my medical students.”

thumb
Cassi Willard
UCF Class of 1995

“When I started at UCF, LEAD Scholars helped me transition from a small town to a big city.  I was able to develop my presentation and networking skills through our projects dealing with leadership, scholarship and service.  I have made lifelong friends and professional skills that have helped me in my career.  I've stayed in the local area for the past 20 years, because I have so many great connections and opportunities still to this day. In the past 20 years, I have graduated from law school, been named a partner my law firm, given a TED talk, served as the Chair of a section of The Florida Bar and have spoken at numerous conferences.  I appreciate the foundation of skills from LEAD Scholars that have helped me soar over the past two decades.”