When I was in high school, I was unsure what my future would hold. I did not have a definite plan going into college, but initially thought about majoring in Pharmacy. During my senior year of high school, I was excited to learn I was selected as a 2010 Hills Bank Leadership Grant recipient. Our first meeting was held the fall of 2009. I was introduced to the other recipients in the area. During the first sessions, we learned about leadership and developed our own definitions of leadership. By January 2010, we were focusing on taking initiative in the community through the activities we participated in. By our final meeting, which was in April of 2010, all of the recipients felt that they had gained friendships, a better understanding of leadership, and better preparation for our first year of college. To this day, I still am in contact with other Leadership Grant recipients.
As I started my degree at the University of Iowa, I quickly learned what a small world this is. After moving into my dorm, I walked around my floor to get to know other students and hopefully make new friends. I was pleasantly surprised when I bumped into Emily, one of my friends from Hills Bank Leadership Grant. Emily turned into one of my biggest supporters as I founded the first ever University of Iowa Collegiate 4-H program – something the Leadership Grant gave me the drive and motivation to create.
As my time at the University of Iowa progressed, I began to understand Pharmacy was not the path for me. I needed a major where I could use my leadership and communication skills to the best of my ability. Knowing this, I decided to change my major to Business Management. As I participated in my business classes, I realized this was the right fit for me.
I was asked to come back to the Leadership Grant reception in April 2011 to share my college experiences and help the new Hills Bank Leadership Grant recipients grasp the opportunities they can take advantage of when starting college. Throughout my time at the University, I created an organization, studied abroad in Ireland, held four internships, volunteered in community service, and gave leadership through the Civic Ambassador program – a program sponsored through the Provost’s office. By taking part in the Hills Bank Leadership Grant program, I was able to better prepare for college. I also learned the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity given. Hills Bank Leadership Grant gave me a drive to do better in my community and the motivation to help people.
I graduated in December 2014 with a Bachelors of Business Administration in Management from the Tippie College of Business with a Certificate in Leadership Studies. Hills Bank and the Leadership Grant Program helped me come full circle in my college career, professional career, and also in life. Currently, I am a Treasury Management Officer at Hills Bank, where I strive to build meaningful relationships with business owners and their employees. I would encourage any high school student to apply for the Hills Bank Leadership Grant. It provided me with financial support, gave me the opportunity to meet new people, taught me how to use leadership in my studies and life, and gave me motivation for my first year of college that was the foundation for my future.
High School Juniors in the following counties are eligible to apply: Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Keokuk, Linn, Louisa, Muscatine, and Washington. You have until March 1st to complete the application. For complete details, visit www.HillsBank.com/LeadershipGrant.
If you are a Leadership Grant Alumni, I’d love to hear how it helped you as you started your college career. If you have any questions, post them in the comments below or send me an email, and I’d be happy to answer them.