Recap: Young Leaders Summit

After taking a leap of faith on a rather sketchy email promising a “free trip to Chicago” and being accepted, I ditched school for a few days in the beginning of August and attended a four-day Leadership Summit with 200 of the nation’s top students.

I had a plan. I was going to do my English reading on the plane, spend 20 minutes on math before bed each night, and not get too behind in class. But, as I inevitably learn time and time again, things don’t always go as planned.

On the plane, I lucked out: I had the window seat and there was no one in the middle seat! The woman who sat on the aisle was amazing and inspiring. I abandoned my plan immediately as we began to talk, and we told each other our life stories. She had incredible insight and it was evident she was really hearing what I had to say.


I arrived after my 3.5 hour plane ride ready to 1. eat and 2. get away from people – in that order. I did meet a few interesting people and we chatted, but after a bit my introverted self was ready to retire to my dorm room. I met my roommate that night, Meia, and as soon as I had showered, I was ready to head to bed.

The next days came as a whirlwind. We attended lectures on college applications, essays, financial aid, resumes, recommendations, and more. We discussed basically every aspect of the college application process.

We also got to meet admissions representatives, leaders of scholarship programs, big names in business and education, and students at colleges/universities all across the country! Needless to say, the schedule was so packed I didn’t have time to do that homework I planned.

As for what you really want to know, the campus of UChicago is amazing! The vines envelope the old architectural buildings, and nearly every time you walk to point A to point B on campus, you’ll be walking beside grass and under a tree – a fantastic phenomenon for a desert kid like myself.


Perhaps even better than the beauty of the campus is the food. Now that’s what you were waiting to hear about, right? I did not get bored of the dining hall at all, and they have so many high-quality options in their cafeteria – an assortment of fruits, salad, and comfort foods. I don’t think I’d get bored of it for a long time, should I go there.

The people I met at YLS have made a permanent impact on me even in the short four days we knew each other. My “squad” felt like a family by the end, and I felt like I could share my fears and aspirations without filter.


And perhaps the best part of this experience? They understood my situation, and they provided this conference free to everyone who got in (with over 2,000 applicants). I walk away from the conference with a pile of makeup work, but a confidence I didn’t have before regarding the college application process.


If you’re a junior or younger with financial need, I highly recommend you apply for this program. Please contact me with any questions about the process!

Have a lovely week my friends,

❤ Alicia

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