Hannah Swan-Leuze had quite the adventure this summer.
The 10-year-old, who is going into her fifth-grade year at Southwestern Elementary School, was nominated by her fourth-grade teacher, Shannon Buttafarro, to travel to Villanova University in Philadelphia, Pa., to attend the National Young Scholars Program. Hannah stayed at the university from July 15-20.
"My teacher nominated me for being a great leader," said Hannah. "We have a lot of activities we do in class, and I'm always the one who gives out a lot of ideas."
Hannah Swan-Leuze at the National Young Scholars Program at Villanova University.
According to the program's website, it "is an exciting and interactive program that unleashes the learning potential within the nation's most promising young students."
Hannah participated in NYSP's residential program, which meant that she stayed in St. Monica Hall in a dorm-style room that included a roommate whom she had never met.
Young scholars are given a choice of curricula to focus on during the program, including engineering design, medicine, NYSP explorers and CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). In addition to their area of study, a focus on leadership is included in all four strands. According to NYSP, the leadership strand concentrates on team building, character development, communication, problem solving and goal setting.
Hannah's hobbies are playing softball, horseback riding and sewing. She has one dog, Sadie, and a fish, Fletcher. When she grows up, she wants to be a wild rider at the rodeo, alongside solving mysteries CSI-style. It's no surprise that Hannah chose NYSP's Crime Scene Investigation strand for her experience.
"Someone had stolen an ancient Chinese vase, and we had to find out who did it," she explained excitedly. "We found the volume of headlight glass, and we did a DNA test on someone's blood to find out who it was."
Hannah would like to attend the program again in the future, as she learned a lot from her experience.
"We learned a whole bunch of skills, and I met a lot of new friends," she said, naming children from as far away as Venezuela. However, she did miss her family.
"It was really tough being without my parents for a whole week, but we were allowed to talk at night," she said. The program was her first extended trip away from home and family, other than a three-day stay at Mission Meadows.
Hannah had widespread support from her family and friends, as well as local businesses who helped sponsor her trip. Her parents, Jen and Sean, and her grandparents, Grey and Cindy Swan and Gary and Dawn DeBadts, along with Spectrum Eye Care, Jamestown Pediatric Associates, Andy Robinson at State Farm Insurance, Lundber Law Associates and Domino's Pizza helped Hannah make her trip a reality.