Sára Lovecká

Class of 2019

Sára Lovecká’s time at LEAF Academy has been strongly influenced by her love for sustainability and community engagement. As a passionate presenter of environmental news at LA Assemblies, Sára created awareness about pressing issues. She also spent two weeks on the streets of Bratislava with the aim to understand people without homes and experience what they go through.

Sára used her leadership skills by organizing TEDxyouth@Bratislava, an inspiring conference for young people. As an enthusiastic debater, she was part of the IPPF (International Public Policy Forum) team that became world champions. She also conducted a year-long sociological research inside LEAF Academy, focusing on the way the students view, experience and understand LA culture.
Sára shares some important lessons she learned through her engagement at the Academy: „I realised that suffering is not heroic. I figured out that if you want help you need to ask for it and that if you want people to understand what you are going through you need to explain it to them.”

Samuel Malina

Class of 2019

During his time at LEAF Academy, Samuel Malina pursued his passions in debating, economics, politics and even arts and swimming. He practiced his communication and collaboration skills by working with the non-profit organizations FabLab and HubHub, and was both a delegate and the committee president at MEP (Model European Parliament). Samuel was strongly engaged in the LEAF Academy community. He took part in many clubs and helped coordinate LEAF Week - a week of learning, on the topic of WW1.

When asked to reflect on lessons he will take away from LEAF Academy, Samuel shares, “I used to be a chill person that always did the bare minimum. Now I am a chill person that occasionally does much more than the bare minimum.” He is thankful to LA “For enabling me to meet some of the greatest people in my life.”

Filip Miháľ

Class of 2019

Filip Miháľ used his time at LEAF Academy to pursue his passion in programming, which has resulted in a student enterprise called Proxima which he has been leading. Besides putting a lot of time in evolving their product, he has also been a member of LEAF Academy Community Award. Through many activities and school projects he was involved in, he learned that he cannot manage everything on his own and should not worry to ask for help.

When asked about what he is most proud of, he mentions three things: “Despite many challenges that I encountered at LEAF Academy, I persisted and never thought about giving up. In addition, I realized how important it is to be surrounded by people that you enjoy being with. Thanks to LA, I got to know myself a little bit more. These are the three things that I am most proud of.”

Looking back at his two years at LEAF Academy, he expresses gratitude towards one and each member of LEAF Academy who, by their uniqueness, made this an incredible experience for him.

You can learn more about his experience through an online memory game coded by Filip himself:

Stanislav Modrák

Class of 2019

Stanislav Modrák was very engaged and committed during his time at LEAF Academy. He used his leadership skills as a School Ambassador, representing LA externally; as a Student’s Representative for the dormitories; and a Residential Committee member. As a lover of IT, Stanislav also co-created “Leafy”, a digital assistant for the school’s students. Stanislav pursued his passion for exploring forgotten places and regions on the school trip to the Ukraine, where he engaged with socially and financially disadvantaged residents in the local Romani community. For him, it was eye-opening - Stanislav shares that “experiencing those different views and beliefs there was amazing.”

Looking back at his growth throughout his studies at LEAF academy, Stanislav feels he is “proud of where I am right now, when looking back at how I got here and different ambitions I had held before, probably not achievable, and what they are now and all different layers of growth I have gone through."

Martina Pankuchová

Class of 2019

During her time at LEAF Academy, Martina Pankuchová pursued her interest in languages, organizing events and developing creative solutions. Martina used her passion for working with people as a part of the MEP (Model European Parliament) organising team, which she found both very challenging and enriching at the same time. She reflects that “Unpleasant things teach you the most. Out of the comfort zone is the learning zone.” Martina’s dedication and people skills helped her be a great Maintenance Representative and Residential Committee member at LEAF Academy.

Martina is very proud of being able to maintain “the balance between my academics and personal life outside of LEAF Academy.” She reflects that her studies at LA helped her become “a self-aware lady responsible for her own actions, emotions and future.”

Jasna Cifrová

Class of 2019

Jasna Cifrová’s experience at LEAF Academy was shaped by her passion for understanding and listening to people’s stories. Amongst other things, she loves event planning, sociology, politics and writing. Jasna was project manager for the successful TEDxYouth conference, participated in SPEAK poetry club and was involved in multiple committees at LEAF Academy. She pursued her love for debating as a co-organizer at the MEP (Model European Parliament) and part of the world champion LEAF IPPF (International Public Policy Forum) team.

Thanks to all her experiences, Jasna can see that “Everyone lives in a context. Every story has two sides, and we shouldn't assume too much about people.”

Jasna feels one of her biggest lessons from studying at LEAF Academy is “Learning to say no, to create boundaries and to determine my priorities.” She is very thankful for “The people I have met. They have inspired me, changed me, gone through thick & thin with me.”

Júlia Schönfeldová

Class of 2019

Viktória Mickey Durová

Class of 2019

Viktória Mickey Durová’s strong interest in humanities greatly influenced her experience at LEAF Academy. She explored her passion in arts and psychology as a member of the American Sign Language and Rainbow clubs and the Residential Committee.

Viktória feels the school gave her the opportunity “to study things she would not have learned otherwise, to discover new interests and to meet people from all sorts of places”. Attending inspiring events and working directly with companies played an important role in her personal growth. She shares, “Now I've re-evaluated my stance on life and people into something more realistic, and I know what I want to be/do.”

When asked what she will miss about LA, Viktória thinks it is “the fact that the Academy building never felt like a school, but more like a place to grow and learn, and be safe.”

Lucia Šikulová

Class of 2019

Lucia Šikulová used her time at LEAF Academy to pursue her love for anything to do with start-ups and entrepreneurship. She enjoys “working together to come up with ideas that have never been done before.” Lucia took part in Start-up Weekends (events where people find a team for their start-up and develop their business ideas) in both Prague and Bratislava.

Lucia is proud of being able to make the best out of her 2 years at LEAF Academy, even though it was not always easy, and “being able to prioritize my dreams over my comforts”. Lucia reflects she is going to “miss the people most of all, they are the cogs in the machine that is LEAF Academy. I will also miss EL (Entrepreneurial Leadership class), as it empowered me to walk down this path and also my Advisory family (a small support group of LEAF Academy students and teachers) who were my greatest support and biggest fans.”

Hanna Ferdynus

Class of 2019

Hanna Ferdynus’s LEAF Academy experience was full of great opportunities to immerse herself in learning things that interest her. She was a part of the Model European Parliament Slovakia, the TED-Ed Club and Eco Club. Motorsport, especially karting and formula 1, have remained Hanna’s passion throughout her LEAF Academy experience.

Looking back at her years at LEAF Academy, Hanna learned that “It’s crucial to find time for things you love and to have enough sleep each night.” She is “most grateful for meeting various people who, through direct or indirect interactions, helped me discover my true self.”

Ema Vargová

Class of 2019

During her time at LEAF Academy, Ema Vargová explored various platforms and participated in many different projects and events. She was a leader of the LA Assembly team and the Community Award team at LEAF Academy, and worked as strategic manager at Edutime, an educational program for kids. During her studies, Ema also juggled internships at the Slovak Fashion Council and ADMA Media, time as a researcher at Creative Dock and work at the start-up Wasteno.

Even though it was challenging, Ema is proud of staying authentic to herself and her values throughout her years at LA and building strong friendships and connections with many of the people she encountered during that time.

Reflecting on her time at LEAF Academy, Ema says “I have managed to become self-reliable, responsible and I have learned how to take life with ease.” She continues, “right now, I have a more realistic approach to life as I strive for meaning in my future plans and I consider their costs (not only financial) much more.”

Dominika Geregová

Class of 2019

During her time at LEAF Academy, Dominika Geregová engaged in many activities and projects that helped her explore her love for art, specifically fashion and filmmaking. She pursued this passion by establishing and leading the LA Drama Club for 2 years and being part of the student enterprises Fountain Poetry and City Soda. Dominika developed herself as an artist through a Global Online Academy Filmmaking course and as a member of the LA marketing team. She also worked as an intern for Vagus, a non-profit organization which creates innovative services for people without a home.

When asked about her experience at LA, Dominika reflects that she is thankful to the Academy, “For giving me high-quality education, provided by professionals in their fields and amazing people - our teachers. For preparing me for later life and shaping me as a person. For giving me the opportunity to meet some people who later became my closest friends.”

Albert Vrzgula

Class of 2019

Albert Vrzgula is passionate about marketing, politics and nature. During his time at LEAF Academy, Albert utilized his entrepreneurship skills by starting City Soda, a project which aims to raise the profile of young artists in Slovakia. He pursued his interest in international relations by taking part in the Slovak round of MEP (Model European Parliament) and contributed to the community at LEAF Academy as a member of the Residential Committee.

When asked about his self-development in the past years, Albert finds he has “become more confident, less unhappy with myself and more open.” One of his biggest takeaways is to “stay honest, be independent and value your friendships.”

Laura Flóra Gaál

Class of 2019

For Laura Flóra Gaál, LEAF Academy was a journey of self-discovery. As a lover of arts and fascinated with any form of storytelling, it turned out that empathy and communication are her strong suits. Laura took part in the community and found connection through the Hungarian, Current Affairs and Rainbow clubs. However, she had troubles as someone who “didn't have the same experience, skills and interests as others”. Laura shares  that her biggest lesson was coming to terms with this: “I started looking for my own road and once I found it I was happier than ever before.” She continues, "LEAF has taught me many valuable life lessons, but if I had to share one it would be this; sometimes you will need to lower your standards or expectations you set for yourself. At first it may feel like giving up on yourself, but the opposite is true; you stop lying to yourself about who you are and are finally living your life as the real you."

When asked about what she would be sad to leave LA, Laura says “Too many things to list: the friendships, the support, the fun classes, cool clubs, barbecues, offsites, teambuilding, Term E’s, and so, so, so much more. I'm grateful to be part of it all, and to have so many amazing people to share these memories with.”

Samuel Chaba

Class of 2019

During his time at LEAF Academy, Samuel Chaba has appreciated the most the resilience of people who are pushing every day to make this institution more and more extraordinary. Besides his studies and hobbies, he has been involved in residential life as an assistant. One the most important lessons he will carry with him is that having an opinion does not necessarily entitle you to voice it.

If you enjoy skateboarding, video games or photography, then you also have a lot to talk about.

When asked to reflect on his personal development at LEAF Academy, Samuel shares, „I was so sure about all the things that I know, now I'm sure about all the things I don't know “.

Filip Glatz

Class of 2019

Filip Glatz’s is a very creative person interested in architecture and urban planning, which he plans on pursuing in his later studies. Through his passion of entrepreneurial leadership, Filip took part in Soutěž a Podnikej, a competition for students interested in creating their own business in high school. Filip also worked on Edutime - an educational program for kids which competed in the Social Impact Award competition, and Playpark Bratislava – an initiative aiming to increase the skills of future entrepreneurs.

When asked to reflect on his personal development at LEAF Academy, Filip shares, “I have found what really fulfils me. And this I have found during EL (Entrepreneurial Leadership classes), when we got a free hand. I felt that during this time, I was more creative. I feel much better when I can just take my computer, go to some coffee-place or gallery, and work. Create. This experience has totally shifted the path which I chose for my future. I realized that having this work freedom is crucial for me.”

Matej Čerman

Class of 2019

Matej Čerman’s experience was strongly influenced by his love for debating, politics and organizing events. He pursued these passions as leader of the Debate Club and a valued member of the MEP (Model European Parliament) team. Matej also put his leadership skills to work as a Residential Assistant, taking care of student boarding.

At LA, Matej gained a lot of confidence by discovering that he could handle very challenging schoolwork while continuing to succeed in his extracurricular pursuits. Thanks to his classes and involvement at the school, Matej has a better idea of what he wants to focus on in his future studies and career: economics.

When asked about LEAF Academy, Matej reflected he is most grateful for “the incredible amount of opportunities to broaden my horizons that I have had thanks to experiential days, seminal readings, clubs, guest speakers, and school trips. Together with academics, these form a diverse mix of experiences that give students a new outlook on life and allow them to discover their passions.”

Ján Hlinka

Class of 2019

Ján Hlinka’s LEAF Academy experience motivated him to pursue his passions both in and out of the classroom. By following his broad interests – from finance and politics to squash and yoyo, Ján learned the value of adopting responsibilities which lead to long-term contentment. His interest in finance led him to work in the leading Central European investment bank, Wood & Company, and to other consulting projects for companies such as O2. Through his passion in competitive debating, he advanced to the Slovak Debating League National Finals in two consecutive years. At LA, Ján proudly learned to develop “the ability to study and learn consistently - something inherently valuable for the future”.

Ján feels grateful “for the opportunity to meet hard-working, talented and smart people who pushed me throughout my journey to discover my passions.” He will miss “the profound bonds which have been formed throughout the two years”.

Zuzana Čellárová

Class of 2019

Zuzana Čellárová’s experience at LEAF lead her to think more critically about things around her and gave her the courage to stand up for a positive change in the community. She loves working with kids and sees the importance in passing down knowledge to the younger generations. This passion can be seen in the project Zuzana worked on during LEAF Academy – Edutime, an educational program which teaches kids teamwork, communication and entrepreneurial skills. She gained real-life experience at one of the most successful Slovak start-ups,

During her time at LEAF Academy, Zuzana learned “that there is nothing more important than family and friends who can always support me in hard times and give me the courage to overcome any challenge I might ever face.” She found it challenging not to be there to support her younger siblings and reflects, “the older I get, the more I realize that the things that cost nothing, hold the most value.”

Alan Marko

Class of 2018

Dominik Jarzemski

Class of 2019

Dominik Jarzemski used the opportunities offered at LEAF Academy to explore his interests in IT, languages and organization; as he explains ,“from the way I pack my suitcases to how cities and countries are organised”. At the school, Dominik provided guidance to his fellow students through peer counselling and was a part of the group researching LEAF Academy culture.

Dominik’s goal for the future is not to end up as “a gray individual in a gray crowd”. Reflecting on his growth at LEAF Academy, he shared “Before LA, I had a vision of myself which was challenged here, and without that I would not appreciate my capabilities as I do now.”

Eliška Kalinová

Class of 2019

Eliška Kalinová used her time at LEAF Academy to engage with the community and develop her passion for sociology. She explored these interests as head of the Residential Committee, and part of the LEAF Academy Community Award committee. Eliška also conducted qualitative research on the culture at LEAF Academy, investigating how the community could be improved.

Eliška looks back at her personal growth at LEAF Academy, “One motivation for me to join LA was to find what I want to do in the future. Not only did I find out what my academic focus is going to be, but I also got to know myself better as a person. I discovered what I like and dislike, which ultimately helped improve my self-awareness.”

Timofej Kožuchov

Class of 2019

With his passion for politics, philosophy and inspiring conversations, Timofej Kožuchov participated in many activities which helped him express himself in many topics. While studying at LEAF Academy, Timofej pursued his passion for debate by forming an LA team to compete in IPPF (International Public Policy Forum); they won the World Championship!  He also founded a student enterprise that communicates complicated political issues to teenagers, worked for HUB HUB coworking and was elected as the Residential Assistant at LA, taking care of boarding students.

Timofej has big plans for the future. After finishing his university degree, he hopes to “to do something connected to politics. Either running for the public office, gaining experience in a similar field, or teaching young students something that I have exclusively learnt through LEAF and the debate club.”

Looking back on his growth at LEAF Academy, Timofej finds “LEAF provided me with two things: more knowledge about the world around me and a more self-aware perception of my strengths. Both allowed me to grow in many ways.” He continues, “Leaving LEAF is like leaving home; it is not easy, because of everything it has given you in life.”

Michaela Krynická

Class of 2019

Michaela Krynická used her time at LEAF Academy to get to know and work with the community and to have an impact on others. She did this through being an active member of the LEAF Academy News team and the LEAF Academy Community Award committee. Michaela also engaged with the community as a Residential Assistant and by working on a project researching the values and culture at LEAF Academy.

When reflecting on her self-development during her studies, Michaela says she learned that “you have to be in harmony with yourself, with your body and soul, otherwise, you won´t be happy.” She will miss the community at LEAF Academy, “Because there are very little places where you can just go and hug both your friends and teachers (at least some of them) whenever you like.”

Viktória Kosztolányiová

Class of 2018

With her passion for visual arts, Viktória Kosztolányiová used every opportunity that would allow her to learn and express herself more in visual arts. She was a member of the Design Team, a student advisory board for the design of the future LEAF Academy campus in the village of  Vištuk. She worked with Kalab, a community center and gallery focused on Slovak minorities living abroad. She also seized the opportunity for social impact when she joined the WStatement project, a student-led enterprise that seeks to address current issues like corruption, through a comprehensive tee shirt, branding, and information campaign. She spent one year working as a lecturer in a language agency in Bratislava.  When asked about her LA experience, she reflected, “I got more confident in what am I doing, my English has improved significantly and I became less competitive and more supportive towards others. I also learned that it’s okay to not know and ask” she shared.

Tomáš Miškov

Class of 2018

Tomáš Miškov’s experience at LEAF was mainly focused on business, mathematics, and sports. He has participated in LEAF News, a student-led committee that researches and informs the academy about news in the world on Monday assemblies. As a sport anchor on this team, he has worked on his public speaking as well as research skills in an area he is truly passionate about. What he believes he has learned at LEAF was that time management and planning are extremely important and crucial for a happy and sustainable life. He believes that during his time at LEAF Academy he has grown and this is what he had to say, “I have matured a lot during my stay at LEAF. I have become more self-aware and able to take critical decisions. I learned to live on my own, discovered what makes me happy as well as found many life-long friends.”

Silvia Filová

Class of 2018

Silvia Filová’s passion for education and startups informed her experience at LEAF Academy. She explored multiple internships in her areas of interest. She was a founding member of WStatement, a student enterprise focusing on using an information campaign and T-shirt branding to fight corruption in Slovakia. Silvia has served as social networks manager for Nota Bene, an all-street street magazine that gives for homeless people the chance to earn a decent income, raise self-esteem, and improve their lives. Her experience also included but was not limited to being a mentor for the MIT Launch Summer Camp and participating in the Harvard MUN Conference. Silvia was involved in a number of projects as an intern at Google Slovakia,  and for several years has been personally mentored by the Google country manager. When asked about how she grew during her time at LEAF and this is what she had to say “I think I become more aware of myself and my surroundings.”

Sára Soľárova

Class of 2018

Sára Soľárova is a firm believer in the power of change, and throughout her LEAF Academy experience, she has explored multiple platforms. Through Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs, she was able to influence other youth. It is through this platform and other similar ones that she, in her own words, “took matters into my own hands and influenced a small group of people”. Reflecting on her time at LEAF Academy, Sara writes, “I learned to be entrepreneurial. Before coming to LEAF Academy, I had never thought of always seeking to find the solution. It might have happened that sometimes when the situation was rather difficult, I gave up or stopped trying to find a long-term solution. After spending two decisive years at LEAF Academy, I learned that no matter the circumstances, there is always a solution”. She continues, “Before LEAF I was a person that needed to push my ideas forward at any cost. I made sure I was heard, even if it meant that some people would not get a word. After studying here for two years, I became calmer, seeking the potential in other people and instead of having myself be heard, I try to encourage and develop those who do not have enough courage to speak up.”

Samuel Ján Nvota

Class of 2018

Samuel Ján Nvota’s used his time at LEAF Academy to explore and share his passion with the community. A passionate debater, he coached a debate team, managing to qualify for the quarterfinals of the second biggest debate tournament in the world, the Winter Holidays Open. He further challenged himself as a member of the winning team of the International Public Policy Forum, the only written and oral debate competition for high school students dealing with issues of public policy. Together with his team, he was co-writing academic debate essays on the topic of binding enforcement mechanisms for international climate accords. They advanced to the final oral round in New York as the only team from Europe and proceeded to secure the title of world champions. When asked how his experience helped him grow, this is what he had to say “Before joining LEAF Academy I was driven, curious and ambitious. However, I felt fairly lost in what I want to do. I knew I wanted to have an impact but how and in which field? LEAF helped me to be more self-aware and realize where I want to be in the future.”

Sabina Šimková

Class of 2018

Sabina Šimková utilized her LEAF Academy experience to overcome her fear of speaking in front of large audiences. Her participation in the rainbow club allowed her to share her opinions and thoughts in a group setting. The club helped her exercise one of her passions for activism, while LEAF News, a student led committee that researches and informs the academy on news events on the Monday assemblies served as platform for to explore her passion for writing. She reflects “Before LEAF Academy I was a person afraid to talk in front of larger crowds and I used to overthink my actions. Throughout the two years at LEAF Academy, I became more confident in front of others, more confident in my own words, and especially I learnt how to just let things be instead of trying to get everything under control.”

Maria-Isabell Abrahamsson

Class of 2018

Maria-Isabell Abrahamsson’s passion for people and community drove her engagement in the community and its activities. Bella is known for her bubbly personality and for her work with LEAF News, a committee of students who research and inform the community through a news segment every Monday, on matters relevant to the community. People and community were at the center of her LEAF experience. She won poetry slam organized by of the Student Enterprises in operation at LEAF. She is also known for her outstanding work behind the lens, she has photographed for LEAF events, school projects and produced 2 marketing videos for LEAF Academy one of which was presented at the annual LEAF Awards in 2017. Reflecting on her growth she writes “I think LEAF Allowed me to grow to a great extent, and now when leaving I have somewhat learned how to balance my life, and even when it’s not balanced, it is usually a choice, and not me being overwhelmed by the situation. Furthermore, I have become much surer of who I am and what I find important in my life.”

Lucia Jaďuďová

Class of 2018

Lucia Jaďuďová used the opportunities offered at LEAF Academy to explore her interests and passions for current affairs and culture. She was the LEAF News Correspondent for culture, informing the school on a weekly basis about successes of Slovak artists and about interesting cultural events happening in the area. Challenging herself with doing new things, Lucia was a member of the Design Team, a student advisory board dealing with the future design of the LEAF Academy campus in Vištuk. Lucia was a member of the LA team that beat out 160 teams from around the world to win the 2018  International Public Policy Forum, the only written and oral debate competition for high school students dealing with issues of public policy. Together with her team, she was co-writing academic debate essays for half a year on the topic of binding enforcement mechanisms for international climate accords. They advanced to the final oral round in New York as the only team from Europe and proceeded to win the competition. Reflecting on her growth at LEAF Academy she shared “I found out that no matter how much and how hard I work, I need to find time for myself, for my friends, for my family and for my passions because without them I cannot be truly happy.”

Lea Thome

Class of 2018

Lea Thome used her time at LEAF Academy to overcome her fears and to challenge herself not only academically but in any way possible. Having attended Harvard Model United Nations this year, she continued this trajectory by being a team member of Model European Parliament Slovakia. She also led the Current Affairs Club this year, where she met weekly with fellow students to ponder the most pressing issues in the world to ensure that students stay informed and have the opportunity to voice their opinions on important matters. Lea was also part of the Community Principles Committee, a group of three students and three faculty  charged with developing the principles and standards that form the code of conduct for the school as well as hearing and making recommendations for disciplinary cases among their peers.  In addition, Lea served as a Residential Assistant, which shaped her view of how a great community can look like and why it is so important to build such one. She believes that all those experiences were pivotal in helping her become who she is now.

She reflected that, “ failure is not necessarily a bad thing but that it is one of the steps to success. While something might not work out on the first try, if you continue to stay resilient and do not give up then you can really manage to turn something into a success”.

Tala Karolina Nierodzik

Class of 2018

Tala Karolina Nierodzik used her LEAF Academy experience to explore her passions and talents. She was the leader of the Visual Image Club and the unofficial photographer for all things LEAF Academy. As a photographer, Tala captured some of the events taking place at LEAF Academy, including but not limited to covering slams produced by Fountain Poetry, a student-led enterprise that organizes poetry slams featuring artists from across Europe. What she believes she has learned at LEAF was openness, “LEAF community taught me how no to be afraid and strive to achieve what I truly seek. Both, EL and life after classes showed me that there is always a way and the fact that you want to espouse different than others direction is not a bad idea”. According to her LEAF Academy has been a space where she started to think about her dreams as thoughts and plans that are both achievable and possible.”

Juraj Jursa

Class of 2018

Juraj Jursa used his LEAF experience to open himself to new opportunities and experiences. A true “Renaissance Man,” Jura’s interests range from poetry to coding, visual arts to martial arts.  His passion for martial arts propelled him to claim the 2014 Slovak Champion in Kendo, a traditional Japanese style of fencing that today is a modern martial art practiced throughout the world. Striving to achieve the unity of body and mind, Kendo is both a sport and an art and a way to coordinate the physical-emotional-mental dimension. Juraj’s interest in poetry, combined with his tech savvy and marketing skilll, led him to become one of the founding members of and integral forces behind Fountain Poetry, a student led enterprise that organizes poetry slams featuring artists from across Europe. For Jura, his time at LEAF Academy has been a great opportunity to learn that people matter and to learn to“tame” himself as he puts it.  He further reflects “I became more open and conscious of people around me, those who truly matter.”

Ján Gerčák

Class of 2018

Ján Gerčák’s LEAF Academy experience was heavily influenced by his passion for community engagement. Through his RA (residential assistant) role and leadership of the Mushroom Hunt Club, he challenged himself to be present and engaged in the community around him. HIs participation in Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth during which delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs projects, was another of the many ways he challenged himself. Reflecting on his growth at LEAF Academy he shared, “Before LEAF, I was very motivated to do things, but what I often lacked was self-awareness and the ability to reflect on my actions. At LEAF I became more self-aware, conscious of my decisions, and improved my critical thinking, making me able to form my opinions and thoughts better. I also learned how to distance myself from tasks and personal discussions, which allow me to take things less personally.”

Jakub Šámal

Class of 2018

Jakub Šámal is passionate about and interested in Dendrology and Recombinant Memetics. While at LEAF Academy he worked on amateur research on ties between extremist groups and high school youth in Central Slovakia. He utilized this experience to learn about what he would like to focus on.  Jakub also worked on the election campaign of the governor of Central Slovakia. Following his experiential research-oriented homeless project, during which he actually lived in a homeless shelter and on the street for nearly two weeks, Jakub decided to delay university entry for a year to work with a company that provides night shelter for homeless people. He believes LEAF has helped grow as he reflects “I have learned that if what you are doing doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Moreover, I went from an annoying smartass to somebody who still acts that way at times, but at least knows that it is something to focus and work on”.

Jakub Kokoška

Class of 2018

Jakub Kokoška used his LEAF Academy experience to pursue what he is interested in and most passionate about, most notably art and the study of game design. Before LEAF, he competed in a wide variety of competitions ranging from geography, history and language Olympiads to math and robotics competitions. This breadth of interests was also reflected in his choice of AP subjects. With this kind of breadth of interests, it wasn’t easy for him to find his focus, but after enough exploration he is clearly decided on pursuing arts, more precisely games and game design. He has no doubt that LEAF Academy has helped him grow, and he reflected, “While at LEAF, I lessened my social anxiety, I learned that I can have an impact on the world around me thanks to the EL classes and I validated my passion for art through different works I created throughout my stay at LEAF, either poems, music or games.”

Florian Niederseer

Class of 2018

Florian Niederseer was interested in different topics some of which he used his time at LEAF to explore. As a poet, he utilized the opportunities LA offered and founded his own company, Fountain Poetry, which combines art, spoken word and performance into slam poetry evenings full of overwhelming emotions, unique stories and unforgettable experiences. Amongst his many learnings at the Academy, one learning he cherishes is “If you plan your future goals, aim high”. He believes that LEAF Academy has contributed to his growth, this is what he had to say “I would say that I was curious and interested in various topics, but the advanced understanding for many of those was missing before I came to LEAF Academy. After my two years, I see myself definitely as not just more mature and equipped with a better insight, but also ready to take greater leaps forward”.

Filip Rácz

Class of 2018

Filip Rácz’s LEAF Academy experience offered him the opportunity to pursue academics, leadership and humanity, all these are things he values and is proud of. While at the Academy Filip created an e-shop for his company. He utilized the opportunities to significantly improve his English language skills. He believes that some of the most important benefits he received from LEAF were gaining a solid background in academics and learning to be a valuable team member. He reflects “The biggest growth was in empathy and self-control, as well as being much more precise about the things I do. Throughout the time I also improved in workflow”.

Ema Rajčanová

Class of 2018

Ema Rajčanová’s LEAF Academy experience shaped her and her values, without compromising who she is. Her role as the residential assistant allowed her to form strong bonds with her hall mates and the LEAF community at large. Her involvement in the LEAF Academy was always community-based given her roles as a Residential Assistant or Community Principles Committee member. Ema was also a member of EL project which focused on researching extremism among young people in Central Slovakia. During this project, she learned to understand young people not based on what seemed right to her and her values, but what seemed right to them in the environment they were. She realized how often we tend to judge people based on our biases and she also learned how to let them in order to understand people as they are.

“There were a couple of learnings which I am taking away from LEAF Academy: I learnt how to ask for help. I learnt how important it is to stay true to yourself, to be authentic and not to change or do decisions just because somebody else is doing it. I also understood that you do not need to change the world, it is enough to try to make it a better place and to make people around you happier”.

Clara Jan Youssef

Class of 2018

Hailing from Egypt, Clara Jan Youssef’s experience was characterized by the importance of community. During her time at LEAF Academy, she was dedicated to seeing the world beyond her limited vision, through being open to new experiences; through meeting and learning about people she gained a better knowledge of the world. Being passionate about the arts, Clara chose the Studio Art Class where she could explore her passion and share some of it with the LEAF community. When asked what was her most important takeaway from her LA experience, this is what she had to say “Reflection. Yes, you read it correctly, reflection. I realized that no matter how influential experiences you would go through, if you didn’t take the time after to evaluate how was it for you, what have you got from it and what would you make differently, you would never truly learn”.

Antonín Šámal

Class of 2018

Antonín Šámal stretched his LEAF Academy experience to explore opportunities and to create many of his own. He was a member a number of clubs that reflected his interests, including Expect Unexpected Club, Science and Physics Club, and the 21st Century Club. His has a compelling love for coding and robotics, through which he has laid a good foundation for his peers who share the interest. When asked what he thinks he has learned at LA, he answered that he has learned that he would love to be a part of an active international community, with food and joy; that he needs to work hard to be among the best, unlike before; how to calculate the volume of an object described as a function rotated by y-axes; and finally,  getting very close to understanding Railgun”. Reflecting on his growth he said “I know I changed, but I don’t have a clue how. I guess I value more the basic and “automatic” things in life and I am more aware of my weaknesses. I grew roughly by 0 cm and 7 kg”.

Alexandra Galetová

Class of 2018

Alexandra Galetová’s LEAF experience was heavily influenced by her passions and interests specifically in the arts and technical things. She shared her love for dance through being a leader of a dance club with other community members who share the same interest and love. Being a member of Model European Parliament, a conference for EU’s youth, where delegates from different parts of the continent convene and work on their English, presentation and diplomacy skills and engage in public affairs, was one of the many ways that she challenges herself. Reflecting on her growth at LEAF Academy she shared “The most important learning during my time at LEAF Academy is the fact that I found my limits and I have become more self-aware. I realized what I want, like and need in my life even though it was not easy to accept it at moments”.