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Taking the leap with LEAPNOW
Posted 04/29/2013 09:00AM

How do you make a graceful and powerful move from home to independence, high school to college, adolescence to adulthood?

Many high school seniors struggle with that exact question as they plan for the next phase of their lives. But, for at least one High Mowing senior, the answer has crystallized in the form of a giant leap. The LEAPNOW program describes itself as “the most engaging year of college on the planet.” And Nina Duggan ’13 would wholeheartedly agree.

LEAPNOW offers one or two alternative years of college with international travel and study, focus on the whole human being, and academic credit through Antioch University. According to Nina:

There are several reasons why I want to attend LEAPNOW. For starters, the program itself is fantastic. Three months in India, and another three months on a solo internship in one of 126 countries doing one of 6,000 possible careers. This is accompanied by several courses in self-discovery and responsibility.

In my life, I want to do something really and truly good for the world— to leave it better than I found it. But before I can begin to help the world, there are a few things I need to do. First of all, I want to know the world. I don’t want to go charging in righteously without knowing how to help; I could end up doing more harm in the process. By traveling and really experiencing different corners of the globe, I feel I can take steps towards understanding it.

I also want to get to know myself. I can’t help anyone else until I am completely confident in my own abilities. I don’t mean this in a conceited way, but in the sense that I have to be comfortable with myself. Through this type of experience, I hope to learn to see.

Nina with her Naturalist Trimester group on their long walk along the River Thames in 2012

When asked what the application process entailed, Nina answered, “To apply to LEAPNOW is relatively simple. They ask a few basic written questions and require a personal interview. The program cannot be done passively, so you must agree to be actively involved and engaged. LEAPNOW also requires participants to be substance free — students using drugs or alcohol will be sent home. Beyond that, the possibilities seem endless! You can learn a new language, experience a different culture, make new friends, rehab baboons in Africa, become a midwife in Indonesia, or many other things.”

Nina’s plans beyond the LEAPNOW program are equally well thought out. “I intend to continue my college education at College of the Atlantic in Maine. I will be focusing specifically on environmental studies and sciences.”

We wish Nina all the best in these exciting endeavors!

Naturalist students in the field

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