Archived Story

Future entrepreneur sharpens skills at Stanford

Published 11:57am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FRANKLIN—LeAnna Leonard, a rising sophomore at Franklin High School, is creating her own path into the business world. Most recently, that road – via airplane – took her to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

LeAnna Leonard, 14, a student at Franklin High School, flew to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where she participated in the LeadAmerica National Student Conference for Business Innovation. -- STEPHEN COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS
LeAnna Leonard, 14, a student at Franklin High School, flew to Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where she participated in the LeadAmerica National Student Conference for Business Innovation. — STEPHEN COWLES | TIDEWATER NEWS

That’s where Leonard, 14, participated in the LeadAmerica National Student Conference for Business Innovation, which was held July 20-29.

She described innovation as an expansion on something that already exists, whereas invention is to make something new.

“We had to create our own business,” Leonard said. “We had to create a vision, which is how our business would affect society. We had to create a mission statement, which is what we want to be as a business, core values and a business description.”

“We created a green restaurant called What Goes Around Comes Around. It had a diner-theme with a lot of recycled materials. We bought the tables and chairs from Urban Ore. We also had a lava rock that was used in cooking. We used solar energy on the top of our restaurant, and we had a green roof, which was a garden on top.”

“I was on Team A, and we had four different parts,” Leonard said. “I was on the management. There was also marketing, finance and operations.”

Morning lectures were also on the itinerary, she said.

Her entry into the summer program came about this past spring after having been nominated anonymously for the business aspect and the optional law and trial facet.

That recommendation came after scoring particularly high on her PSATs.

“I’d rather be an entrepreneur,” Leonard said why she chose the first option.

This conference wasn’t her first such experience with learning about the business world.

“I’ve done business programs before at Hampton University and another at Old Dominion University last summer.”

The first, she explained, was a project to make the HU campus green by imagining a business plan for solar and wind energy, as well as some recycling.

“We had to create a budget and show how to set it up,” Leonard said.

The second was the Young Ph.D’s in Engineering, where they designed a helicopter/car.

There was also a third event, Summer Health and Science Academy at Norfolk State University, in cooperation with Eastern Virginia Medical School and the National Institute of Health.

Along with financial help from her parents, Richard and Andrea Leonard of Franklin, the teenager received help from relatives, family friends and other sponsors. Andrea Leonard figured the trip cost around $3,100, although a partial grant from LeadAmerica helped. The plane ticket alone was $800, never mind more cash needed for expenses.

All this was not just handed to the student. In addition to her cultivating the sponsors, she also created a lemonade stand in her community to raise funds. She figured to have raised round $260.

In addition to having to seek out tuition, Leonard realized she also had to work even more at the conference by competing with people from other countries, such as Brazil, China, India and Russia.

She remembered one young man from Saudi Arabia who she said always had something to say. Further, Leonard noticed that men dominated the program, and she had to speak up when necessary.

The visit wasn’t entirely about work; she visited the Tech Museum of Innovation and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Overall, Leonard said the experience was a positive one, and she would probably do more such programs when available.

In addition to helping her pick a college or university, she also earned two college credits by participating in the conference.

Meanwhile, high school begins in a few weeks, and Leonard will be busy with academics, including DECA and the Gifted Education Program.

To learn more about LeadAmerica, visit www.lead-america.org.

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