Shifting education from its back seat to the front row

Since childhood, the game of ice hockey consumed my life. Growing up, the game was my passion and I wanted nothing else than to play in the National Hockey League. My routine for over a decade consisted of early morning on-ice training with a three-hour practice later in the day followed by off-ice conditioning. When I was not at the rink, I was reviewing game footage and reading books on hockey strategy and sports psychology. My insatiable desire to keep improving led me to seek tougher competition. At the age of sixteen, I left my home state of California to play for a nationally ranked team in Michigan. After experiencing a few years of success at the elite youth level, I finally broke into the semi-professional ice hockey circuit. My path seemed more certain than ever and with that optimism, I chose to defer my college education and pursue my dream. However, after three years of limited success and multiple injuries, it became clear that it was time to make a change. I made the tough decision to step away from the sport that had defined me for so long.

Changing direction

Griffin Leach Headshot

Griffin Leach

I played my final season for a team in Virginia. As I redirected my focus toward academics, I knew I would have to make drastic changes in order for me to reach my full potential. For many years, hockey took precedent over school, so I had to redefine my priorities. After weighing my options, I decided to stay in Virginia and enroll at Tidewater Community College with the intention of transferring to an elite undergraduate business school. I knew that in order for me to meet my aspirations I would need a fresh start. Community college was my chance to not only improve my academic record, but also reinvent myself.

During my time in high school, I thoroughly enjoyed statistics and economics. These interests led me to pursue an associate’s degree in business. As my understanding of the various business disciplines became more sophisticated, I found that I had an acute interest in finance. Through activities such as volunteering in Chesapeake Regional Hospital’s finance department, I was able to expose myself to financial and accounting concepts. In addition, I have had the opportunity to engage with professionals in my field of interest, such as investment bankers and private equity partners. The insight I have gained from this dialogue has helped me narrow my interest and better identify the job environment in which I will thrive.

Finding a new passion

Over the past two years, I have had the opportunity to not only find what interests me academically, but also develop my leadership skills through involvement in several organizations, such as the Civic Leadership Institute. With Civic, I helped create a food recovery network that fights hunger by transporting unused food from grocery stores and restaurants to organizations that serve those in need. This experience along with others have helped shape me into a civic-minded and engaged leader.

Through my dedication to academics and community involvement, I have been lucky enough to become a Pearson Scholar. This opportunity has been both an exhilarating and humbling experience. I was awarded a generous scholarship, while gaining exposure to many like-minded students. Their stories and accomplishments have given me an idea of what to strive for, and I am honored to be in the same category with them.

Being a Pearson Scholar is far more than just a resume builder. The impact made by my mentor’s commitment and investment into my future is immeasurable. The true value of this scholarship does not come in the form of a check. Through connecting with mentors and Pearson staff, I feel I have gained a new support system that desperately wants me to succeed in my pursuits.

Griffin is a recipient of the 2016 Pearson Scholarship for Higher Education. Each Pearson Scholar is paired with a Pearson professional mentor who provides support as Scholars progress toward degree completion. We are incredibly proud of all the Pearson Scholars. Please check back as we continue to highlight each scholar’s story!


  1. Victoria Bankowski 4 years ago

    Great story. Congratulations.

  2. Victoria Bankowski 4 years ago

    You have a great and interesting story. Continue telling your story and find your place in the buisness world. You are an inspiration to all.

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