My name is Amber Shirley from the Greater Palm Harbor YMCA in Palm Harbor, Florida. Growing up I moved around a lot between Florida, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, but somehow made my way back to Florida in 2011. I started swimming for the Y that summer and have pretty much spent every day there since. In my 13 years of being a competitive swimmer I never found a “home” until I came to the Y. This YMCA has influenced me to help others, which has helped me find my passion in nursing. Right now, I am in my second semester at Rasmussen College of Nursing where I plan on becoming a registered nurse.
My journey with the Y started when I was just 10 years old. It was the only place that I felt I was at home, at least until I joined Leader’s Club. I was coerced to join by a friend, and looking back now it is the best decision I have ever made. My first year coming to BRLS was a game changer for me. I realized that who I am deep down is who I am meant to be. 5 years later, Blue Ridge has had an incredible impact on my life. It has taught me to be confident in who I am, and most importantly how to love and trust in others. Without BRLS I would not be the Person that I am today.
There truly is nothing like Blue Ridge Leaders’ School. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, it’s not worth it to pretend to be something you’re not. To all of y’all coming to BRLS this year, you are going to have the opportunity of a lifetime. Take advantage of your time on the mountain, make friends, and have fun. If you ever need anything feel free to come find me. I am so excited to see what this year has in store. See you soon!!
My name is Andrew Dill and I am from the Northwest Tampa YMCA. I am very excited to be going into my first year at the Florida State University.
Something interesting about myself is that I am very involved with band and music. I play the alto saxophone and the bass clarinet and I hope to be a member of the Florida State Marching Chiefs. I also threw shot-put and discus on my track and field team in high school. I am a huge fan of sports and my favorite professional sports team is Arsenal FC. Two sports that I love and enjoy to play are soccer and ultimate frisbee.
Blue Ridge Leaders’ School means the world to me. Blue Ridge has been the epitome of happiness in my life. Whenever I’m faced with adversity, whenever life gets overwhelming, or even if I’m just having a bad day, I picture myself sitting on a rocking chair and looking out at the beautiful mountains. I see the bright blue sky, the rich green trees, and out of the corner of my eyes, the white pillars of Eureka hall. That image of the mountains fills me with much joy and has helped me get through difficult situations in my life. Blue Ridge reminds me that I have people who love and support me and that I have the strength to overcome whatever challenges I’m faced with.
Hi there! For those of you that I haven’t been able to meet yet, my name is Marc Weinstein, and I am from the South Tampa Family YMCA. This will be my sophomore year at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where I am currently a Psychology Major. I am not really quite sure what I want to do with my life, but I know I want to help others in their time of need. BRLS 2020 will be my 7th year at Blue Ridge (whaaaaat), and I am already counting down the days until we travel back to experience the magic of the mountain!
It is hard to sum up how important Leaders’ Club is to me. Like many others, my life would be unbelievably different without this program. I am who I am today because of my Leaders’ Club experience, and because of all of the amazing people I have met throughout it! BRLS is my home away from home and will forever hold a special place in my heart because of all that I have learned and because of the connections that I have made.
Some fun facts about me are that I love telling cheesy jokes, goofing off with friends, I am a certified medical responder, and I love to play all sports (even if I am terrible at them). I am a super open person so please don’t hesitate to come talk to me! It’s an honor to be able to serve you all this year, I absolutely cannot wait! See you on the Mountain!
I’m Sofia Gonzalez from the Campo Family YMCA in Tampa-ish, Florida. I am currently in my second year of college at the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in Aerospace Engineering with a minor in Mathematics… NERD ALERT! After college I want to work for any space company designing and perfecting rockets, and potentially training to be an astronaut. My dream is to travel to Mars! Aside from school, I love spending time with my friends, playing volleyball, going to concerts, and eating! Atlanta has become my new home, and I couldn’t be any happier about it.
This will be my seventh year on the mountain, which is crazy to be typing out right now. I love love love everything Leaders’ Club stands for because it has transformed my life. Leaders’ has provided a safe and loving environment for me while introducing me to my best friends whom I know will last a lifetime. Leaders’ School has taught me some of the most useful lessons that I could not have leaned anywhere else, which is why I am forever grateful to the school. All in all, Leaders’ Club means absolutely everything to me.
Some fun facts about me are that I can recite my ABCs backwards, I would rather eat a whole veggie tray than ice cream, and I sleep with a total of ZERO pillows. Call me weird, call me super cool, but that’s me! I am so excited to see all of you and serve you in June!
With lots and lots of love,
My name is Brady Graham and I am from Charlotte, North Carolina. I go to Central Piedmont Community College and plan on transferring after I get my Associates in Arts Degree. I belong to the Brace Family Leaders’ Club and this coming year at BRLS will be my 7th year on the mountain and in the Club. A couple fun facts about myself are that I have been playing soccer since I was about 7 years old and that I was born in Florence, Kentucky but we moved to North Carolina the summer I turned 7.
Leaders’ School to me is a second home and the people there are what make it feel this way and make it such a magical place. The school itself is a place to disconnect from the outside world and focus on ourselves and what we need. I have met my best friends on the mountain and these relationships will last a lifetime and I couldn’t be more thankful for what the mountain has given me. It has been a big part in shaping who I am today and has helped me become the person I want to be both on and off the mountain.
Hi all! My name is Emily Rhodes and I am from the Harris YMCA! I was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. This year I will be a sophomore at UNC Wilmington (GO SEAHAWKS!!!) and I can’t wait to spend more time at the beach. I am majoring in Biology Pre-Med and minoring in Chemistry and Spanish. I hope to one day become an orthopedic surgeon. I am an avid coffee drinker and I love dance, music, and people.
The YMCA has been a second home to me since I was two and even more now that half of my family works there. The Harris Leader’s Club has not only been a Club for me, but a second family since I was thirteen. Leaders’ Club and Blue Ridge Leaders’ School has allowed me to channel my passion for the YMCA into service and others and it has had such a large impact on my confidence. I have been heavily involved in Y my whole life from Leaders’ Club, afterschool, princess appearances, and more. I would not be the outgoing and empathetic person I am today without Blue Ridge and the influence of so many amazing people.
This year will be my seventh year and I cannot wait to see what is in store. I am looking forward to seeing and meeting all of you. Don’t ever hesitate to say hi and chat with me. See you on the mountain!!
With tons of love,