#StudentStories: Leah Dunlap, Jacksonville University

Meet Leah Dunlap, an aspiring digital artist and freelance photographer beginning her freshman year at Jacksonville University. Read on to learn more about Leah’s influences in life, how she earned $27,500 in scholarships through RaiseMe, and the moment that she learned how her individual academic achievements were being valued by colleges.

Favorite activity in school?

My favorite course during school was graphic design because I got to advance my knowledge in the digital art realm.

What’s biggest obstacle you encountered on your path to college and how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle I encountered on my path to college was organizing my daily schedule so I could have time to complete the necessary requirements for college. I overcame this obstacle by purchasing a planner to write out important deadlines.

What was the best advice you got on your path to college and who did you get it from?

The best advice I got on my path to college came from my graphic design teacher Mr. Beckett. He told me to visit multiple campuses before making an ultimate decision.

Why do you want to go to college?

I am excited about going to college because I get to expand my knowledge and advance my artistic abilities.

How did RaiseMe change how you thought about applying to college?

RaiseMe changed the way I thought about applying to college because it gave me hope that I could afford a university through my academic achievements. As an academically superior student who comes from a family that needs financial support, RaiseMe helped me make important decisions when applying to college by showing me what colleges were willing to offer me for my achievements. I then began to visit each school that made an offer to me, and that’s how I found Jacksonville University. I am now a proud Dolphin!

What’s the best advice you would give your 9th grade self about college?

The best advice I would give my 9th grade self about college is that colleges will acknowledge your hard work and achievements.

Who in your life has helped you the most as you worked your way to college and how did they help?

The person in my life who has helped me the most as I worked my way to college would have to be my mother because of her previous experiences she was able to help guide me down a successful path.

What celebrities do you look up to and why?

One role model that I look up to the most would have to be AJ Neste because he showed me that a local student could make it big in the art world if you work hard towards your dreams and never let go of the one thing that makes you unique.

What’s one quote that inspires you?

One quote that inspires me to keep working at my dream comes from Ralph Waldo Emerson and he said, “Every artist was first an amateur.” This constantly reminds me that a great artist was not born, but was made through hard work and determination.

What’s your future career ambition?

My future career ambition is to be a freelance graphic designer and photographer.