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Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Advisory Council

The 2018 Leadership Advisory Council (GLS-LAC) is a team of dedicated scholars and alumni who collaborate with program staff and other affiliates to serve as liaisons, advocates, and in some cases, decision makers for their fellow peers within the program. Nominations for the Council are accepted at the beginning of each program year.

Garret Allen , Year 1 Scholar

“Leading to build the foundations of a better society”

School: Gardner-Webb University

Bio: My name is Garret Allen. I am a freshman at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. I was born and raised in Kings Mountain, NC (go mountaineers). Currently majoring in economics and finance with a concentration in wealth management. Growing up in rural North Carolina has been provided me a great opportunity to explore the needs of individuals who may not have a lot of resources at their fingertips. It has also provided me with the glimpse of what communities across the nation and even world face. Like many scholars in the Golden LEAF Foundation, I am passionate about seeking change in my local community. A passion that I have grown to cherish is financial literacy. Financial literacy and retirement preparedness has been a growing concern in the aging baby boomer population of North Carolina for quite some time and continues with our generation today. My goal is to help narrow the gap and assist individuals in our community overcome financial hardships and create lasting change in their futures. Through the Golden LEAF Leadership program, I believe scholars will be properly equipped to be able to go out into our communities and make lasting changes that will benefit our counties, our state, our nation, and our world for centuries to come.

Robert Barlow, Year 3 Scholar

"Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. -Greek Proverb"

School: UNC-Asheville

Bio: What Golden Leaf and the Center for Creative Leadership has accomplished is the embodiment of the quote above and one I wholly support. Many of the ills that plague this world of ours can be mainly boiled down to common social dilemmas such as the tragedy of the commons, the collective action/coordination problem, the prisoner's dilemma, etc. All of which only consider the individual rather than the group, the heart of John Nash's Nobel Prize. Many of students graduating fall for this individual incentive, to seek opportunities in larger developed cities, but what they fail to realize is that their action not only can lead to less opportunity (When everyone does so, the opportunity dwindles with every additional person.), but it's to the detriment of a larger picture, rural counties that make up a majority of this country. Golden Leaf and CCL, through the leadership program, has planted many saplings, saplings of aspiring leadership, whose trunks may grow close to their origin, so that they may provide shade, and protection, to the young saplings of tomorrow. We all have a responsibility to look out for others, and through the program, we have learned to know ourselves, learned to know others, learned to know our home, and learned to alter all of those, and the world, as Golden Leaf and The Center For Creative Leadership has done.  One of the key indicators for historians that a society has grown, is GDP per capita, which can only rise if progress is spread, not concentrated, so not only is it our duty to become leaders, but it is our duties to spread leadership across the world.

Quadeshia Batts, Year 4 Scholar

School: Winston-Salem State University


I am a southern bell from Whitakers, NC. Before becoming a Golden LEAF Scholar I did not understand the importance of returning to my rural community and giving back. This amazing program has given me the opportunity to grow and develop as a leader, bring these skills to life in my community, and most importantly, changed my outlook on serving my rural community. This May I will be graduating from college with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. I aspire to take the skills I have learned throughout my collegiate experience, the Golden LEAF Scholarship Leadership Program, and Center for Creative Leadership to accomplish my goals and aspirations. My passion to be creative, innovative and a servant to my community has grown through the course of this program. As my school motto says, "Enter to Learn, Depart to Learn". 

Heather Boggess, Year 1 Scholar

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

School: UNC-Pembroke


Hello, everyone!  My name is Heather Boggess and I am majoring in psychology and sociology at UNC Pembroke.  This year I decided to become involved with the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program and the Leadership Advisory Council because I understand how important it is to be the change you want to see in the world.  I believe in forward-thinking and the constant betterment of oneself, which is what inspires my quote above.  These qualities can also be found in the heart of the Golden LEAF Foundation.  Every year they provide hundreds of rural North Carolinian students with the opportunity of higher education and substantial leadership experiences.  Being involved with those in the Golden LEAF has helped me build confidence as a leader, obtain new skills to use in my professional endeavors, and create friendships with outstanding people.

Micah Lee, Year 4 Scholar

“Committed to excellence. Driven by my community”

School: University of Mount Olive


Ever since I put on my first pair of glasses as a tremendously nearsighted kid, I knew that ophthalmologists were superheroes when it comes to helping people.  My passion has always been to serve others. When it came time for me to choose a career, I thought back to those first moments of perfect vision.  My decision to become an ophthalmologist was clear.  However, I didn’t foresee myself being able to use this platform to heavily impact widespread problems in my rural community. This perspective changed once I joined the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program. My eyes were opened to the countless number of students and scholar coaches who also wanted to find solutions for rural North Carolina.  The greatest of these connections has been aligning with mentors who have made a positive impact on their community through accessible healthcare.  Over the past three years of interning as a Golden LEAF Scholar with optometrists and ophthalmologists in Wayne County, I have learned about the many challenges rural communities face with accessing medical attention.  I discovered problems with healthcare; but in even more overwhelming ways, I learned how these doctors are finding innovative solutions for our community.  These bold leaders are mentoring me, aiding me to find my own path in becoming a positive influence in this area.  Being a Golden LEAF Scholar has not only allowed me to make an immediate impact on my county, but also has shaped me to become an ophthalmologist, becoming a catalyst of change for the future of my community. 

Jeimy Mejia, Year 2 Scholar

“Remember where you come from, appreciate where you are, and focus on where you’re going”

School: UNC-Chapel Hill

Bio: Raised in small town Lenoir, NC of Caldwell County, I am currently a sophomore at Carolina, double majoring in Management & Society and Communication Studies. When I first learned about the Golden Leaf Scholarship, I knew this would be a scholarship unlike any other, because of the opportunities to gain leadership skills, receive an internship and most importantly, give back to your community and share what is invested in you. I strongly believe in never forgetting your roots, your story and where you come from, no matter where you go and in paying it forward every chance you get. The Golden Leaf Scholars Program has cleared a path for me to find my calling in this world, to develop the skills to become an effective leader and to focus on my educational and personal endeavors and for that, I am eternally grateful. I hope to contribute within the program through my position as an advisory council member, to the staff who works tirelessly to plan all the details of the program and who care about us and to celebrate the achievements of all the scholars. I also hope to be able to strength my skills, work efficiently with my peers and to be able to serve the purpose of making our program even more exceptional than it already is.

Gayla Olvera, Year 3 Scholar

School: University of Mount Olive

Bio: Hello, my name is Gayla Olvera and I'm currently a junior at the University of Mount Olive. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Healthcare Management. The Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program has helped me discover my purpose and learn the true meaning of leadership. Without this program and the help of CCL, I would not have discovered my passion for helping people in mental health. My internship experiences have helped show me the true value in giving back in my own rural community that faces issues such as poverty, education, and homelessness. With the preparation that Golden LEAF has given me along with CCL, I feel confident that I will make a difference in my rural community and put my unique leadership skills to good use in order to give back. I will always be thankful for the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program and the endless doors of opportunities it has provided for me. 

Keely Thomas, Year 2 Scholar

School: Western Carolina University

Bio: My name is Keely Thomas, a sophomore at Western Carolina University from Rutherford County, NC. I have been able to find myself and grow throughout the first year of my participation in the Golden LEAF Scholars Program. As I start my second year, I reflect on what I have seen from the foundation. Golden LEAF allows young minds to further themselves beyond the limits that their poverty stricken hometowns have set for them. No one sets out to change the world in a single motion, and Golden LEAF reminds people that it starts at home. A change to improve rural communities will inevitably improve the state, the nation, and the world. However, it is not just a random selection of students. The leadership program builds and invests in leaders who see the change. In high school, adults were so focused on testing that they forgot that they were supposed to be preparing young adults to enter the world of careers and not just jobs. This program helps do for young adults what their towns have denied them. The opportunities are endless with the right mindset and support system that is provided by the Golden LEAF team.

Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program
Center for Creative Leadership
1 Leadership Pl.
Greensboro, NC 27410

Julie Griffin | Program Director
(336) 286-4412 | Fax: (336) 286- 4434

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