By GGTW Co-founder and contributing editor Tricia Yacovone-Biagi
This past Saturday, April 27, 2019, I had the tremendous honor to award the first ever Go Get The World scholarship to the amazing Leah Boutelle at the University of Massachusetts Amherst–the place we locals and alumni call UMass. You will hear more from Leah herself in a few weeks (after finals are over!) but for now, I can tell you that she exemplifies everything GGTW wants to support—having a dream, pursuing it relentlessly, and overcoming difficult circumstances through hard work, perseverance and determination. She did it, she said, to be a good role model for her adorable six-year-old daughter Charlotte. (I told you she is amazing!) And Charlotte, a future Go-getter herself, stayed by Leah’s side throughout the reception and awards ceremony, and even presented me with hand-drawn thank you note.
Over the course of the afternoon, Leah and I discovered a few things we had in common, the first of which made us laugh. We both have blue highlights in our hair! Granted, she also has some purple and hers are of the pastel variety while mine are quite bright, but we nevertheless enjoyed the serendipity of the color choice. On a more serious note, Leah’s academic interests include medical anthropology and the bane of food deserts, both of which have interested me for years. And, we both recognize the value of hard work and the sense of satisfaction derived from realizing a goal after putting forth a strong effort.
I knew the scholarship selection committee at the UMass BDIC program nailed it when awarding Leah the scholarship over other applicants when she said this about a chemistry class that had been particularly challenging:
I am more proud of the B-plus I got in that difficult class than some of the A’s I got in easier classes, because I know how hard I worked for it.Leah Boutelle, GGTW’s first scholarship recipient
Leah shared that she’s taken a long time to get where she is today, which, I think, also adds a tremendous amount of meaning to her journey. There’s nothing quite as sweet as a victory after a long and unlikely trek. And that brings me to one more thing I found that Leah and I have in common.
Like Leah’s journey, the journey that led me to that stage to award her the first BDIC Go Get The World Scholarship on Saturday seemed unlikely a little more than a year ago. That was when my good friend Amanda Epp, at the suggestion of her incredibly supportive brother Ben Way, approached me about creating an organization called Go Get The World. She said our motto would be, “Go get the world. We’re here if you need us” and she reminded me of the story of how that phrase became a touchstone in her life. I loved the idea and agreed to help, not knowing exactly what would become of it.
Amanda and I agreed that the ‘we’re here if you need us’ part needed to be more than just a slogan, so we aimed to find ways to tangibly support women on their paths to success. One of the best ways we thought we could accomplish that was through funding college scholarships. We worked to set one up at my alma mater for a student in the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration (BDIC) program. BDIC allows students to create their own major when they can’t find a traditional one that fits their academic pursuits. Amanda and I thought that degree best reflected a person who wanted to go get the world that they saw, and not the one others told them to see. To us, that sounded an awful lot like a student who was out to go get the world. A student just like Leah.
So on Saturday, as I described the GGTW mission to that crowd of outstanding students, their family members and faculty, and then announced the name of our first scholarship recipient, I was almost overcome by the emotion of realizing what GGTW had accomplished. Our unlikely journey that had begun with a conversation between two friends, resulted in the awarding of a scholarship to an outstanding and incredibly grateful student! We had set out our goals, formulated and executed plans, and that very day had achieved our objective to help a determined and deserving student finish her degree. What made that realization even more overwhelming was the fact that this ceremony came on the tails of last week’s blog post that narrated how GGTW helped a writer rebuild her life, and the recent announcement of our first networking event on May 28 in Columbus. We had indeed accomplished a great deal, as unlikely as it seemed many, many months ago.
I am humbled and honored to be part of the GGTW organization and the work we do. I am awestruck by the dynamic women who have joined our board of directors and committees and who selflessly offer their time and talents to create a forum for positivity and encouragement for others to chase their dreams.
Go Get The World is now a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that we hope will garner enough support from the community to sustain this and other scholarship programs. We welcome Leah as our newest Go-getter and look forward to learning more about her achievements and successes as her journey to Go Get The World unfolds. Congratulations again, Leah! Go Get The World; we’re here if you need us!
If you are interested in supporting the GGTW scholarships, please send us an email with your contact information and level of interest. And every day, remember to Go Get The World!