Campus News: LEAP Welcomes 20 Incoming Freshmen

Manage PermissionsManage Permissions
LEAP Welcomes 20 Incoming Freshmen
Merritt Jenkins - 9/24/2021

LEAP Welcomes 20 Incoming Freshmen


Twenty incoming freshmen were recently selected to become part of LEAP, a federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program designed to aid in student success.


LEAP (Learn, Engage, Achieve Program) started in 2015 when the university was awarded a five-year grant of $1.1 million by the U.S. Department of Education. In August 2020, Lee successfully renewed its five-year grant of $1.3 million.


Lee contributes over $200,000 per year of institutional funds to the program that serves 140 first-generation or underrepresented students each year who meet the eligibility criteria. The program currently provides individual success coaching, peer mentors, direct student aid, financial aid counseling, financial literacy education, cultural and academic enrichment opportunities, and other personalized services according to individual students' needs.


"We are excited about the 2021-22 cohort," said Dr. Angela Waltrip, director of LEAP. "The potential in these students is endless. They are committed to aspire to succeed in their majors, vocation, and calling to serve God and others."


The incoming LEAP class of 2025 includes Emma Bono, from North Carolina; Kayla "Noelle" Clark, Tennessee; Ezekiel Coventry, Connecticut; Alyssa Demien, Tennessee; Jordyn Frees, Ohio; Hannah Garner, North Carolina; Aidan Giavelli, Georgia; Kathryn Haley, Tennessee; Hannah Hitchcock, Missouri; Rachel Hurd, Tennessee; Madysen Khamphengphet, Tennessee; Attaya Lafayette, Tennessee; Emma Martinez, Tennessee; Benjamin Pavlov, New Jersey; Noah Smith, Tennessee; Vu Tran, Florida; McKaylee Willis, Tennessee; Isabella "Ella" Wilson, Tennessee; Hannah Winters, Tennessee; and Irene Wright, Tennessee.


Incoming students meet weekly with their professor and peer mentors for Gateway, a class designed to help acclimate new students to life at Lee. Peer mentors are upperclassmen who have been, and continue to be, connected to LEAP and serve as mentors for the underclassmen within the program.


Waltrip was chosen to be the LEAP Director after having served as the LEAP community coordinator. Kathi Douglas and Jake Fast also joined the LEAP leadership team this fall. Douglas moved from Lee's Office of Academic Affairs to serve as LEAP's community coordinator, and Fast joins LEAP as the academic coordinator, after having served as enrollment and advising specialist in Lee's School of Nursing.


For more than 50 years, the Student Support Services (SSS) program has made important contributions to individuals and society by providing a broad range of services to help students succeed. The Federal TRIO Programs include eight federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programs provide grants to institutions of higher education, public and private agencies, and various organizations.


For more information about LEAP, visit


For more information about TRIO Programs, visit  

Created at by
Last modified at by