INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The door has been opened for her and now Leila Champion wants to hold it open for students who will come behind her. After attending Harvard's summer program for high school students, Leila wanted to show other students they can do it too.
"I've applied to Harvard University, Yale University, Dartmouth College, Columbia University, Wesleyan University," said Leila.
Leila has her eyes on the Ivy League schools. After realizing she wanted to challenge herself more, she decided Harvard's high school summer program was the perfect fit.
"So I applied for it. I was telling everybody ‘I'm going to Harvard for the summer. I'm going to Harvard for the summer.’ And they was like ‘Harvard? No you not. I don't know nobody that go to Harvard, you not going to Harvard.’ And that just fueled me like ‘no, yes I am going,’" Leila said.
And she went.
"That experience was invigorating every day. It just fueled me like wow. It was unbelievable like wow, I'm really at Harvard," Leila said.
But now she wants her peers to feel that too. So she decided to organize the Champion Project. It's an Ivy League college tour for minority students as part of her senior capstone project at Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School. She says traditionally minority students haven't been encouraged to apply to Ivy League schools.
"Since nobody else is going to do it, I'm going to do it. I'm going to be the one who shows these students like this is possible. These reach schools are attainable," Leila said.
The tour is a little more than two months away. The total cost is $25,000, $650 per student.
"And I envision me taking 40 students from Indianapolis on a bus tour just going from different campuses hearing what it's like," Leila said.
As she fights to the finish line, she knows even with all of her drive and passion she can't do it alone.
"What I need to make this happen is, I need the financial support of my community and I need parents to believe in their child," said Leila.
If you would like to learn more about The Champion Project or if you’d like to donate, click here.