Danicka Leeds

Danicka Leeds

Class of 2020

The possibility of attending Inspire has always been riveting to me since middle school. The idea of going to a school that accepted you as you were and encouraged like minded creativity seemed foreign or out of grasp. Many schools from my experience focus solely on the academics of each student leaving little room for creativity but Inspire encourages both with more support towards individuality than conformity. Unlike other schools, Inspire offers students the opportunity to declare a major to explore deeply their passions while meeting all high school graduation requirements. I find it a privilege to work alongside highly supportive faculty and with like-minded peers who genuinely care about their success and education.

Inspire allowed me to explore new pathways and excel in areas I wouldn’t have previously traveled. With abundant opportunities to express oneself I unexpectedly leaned towards dance as a newfound passion with the encouragement of Jarrah. The kind of love and devotion the teachers and other administrators pour into their students is admirable and that kind of unity is rare to find elsewhere.

When I was going through the Camp Fire with the belief I would never see my family again, I had a teacher right there beside me in care as I struggled to maintain my composure. During the worst of my darkest days where I have been diagnosed with severe nerve damage with the idea of walking to be a challenge let alone dancing an impossibility. My dance teachers remained by my side and saw in me an ability to dance that I, at first, did not recognize. Jarrah related to my pain of not being able to dance and feeling like your world is crushing down with her own medical stories. Mrs. Shoemaker was sending me love through my many stays in the hospital and sent me videos of man tap dancing without a leg. Through this encouragement, they offered me hope and with hope comes a dream which could be achieved. Through vulnerability change occurs, and Inspire is all about recognizing each student's potential, even if they themselves don’t see their own abilities until they are brought to the surface.

I had to accept myself for who I am and recognize that I can still dance and do anything I desire if I simply adapt and work to achieve that goal. My medical diagnoses simply challenged my creativity and acted as an inspiration to others demonstrating that they too can overcome the obstacles in their lives in pursuit of what they love. This was my main incentive that fueled my Senior Project titled “Removing the dis in disability” which aims to showcase each dancer's abilities. Using a spoken word I created that retold my medical journey, I would have choreographed a dance accommodating to each individual dancer to communicate to my audience and peers that they shouldn’t let their current circumstances be a barrier that they can’t overcome. Despite the challenges of this virus, I aim to continue my vision of this project even if it will be after I graduate. Inspire has demonstrated to me that no matter what obstacle comes my way that I can still achieve the same goals that may be seen as improbable by others. I just need to recognize that there will be setbacks but I can still find prosperity in every situation This belief will continue to inspire me to further my passions and to take risks in life in pursuit of what I love to do whether it's dancing, helping people find their potential, or tending to the needs of infants so they too can leave their mark in society.

I am currently a freshman at UC San Diego majoring in Human development of sciences with a minor in Spanish and working on my prerequisites for either medical school or nursing school.