Leya Deickman does all the things.
A senior from Fayetteville, NC, set to graduate on May 11, 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Leya has truly taken advantage of every available Ferrum College opportunity. She is a residence hall advisor and serves as president of the College’s campus chapter of Help Save the Next Girl, an organization dedicated to the safety of girls and women. She is an intercollegiate wrestler, serving as captain from fall 2016 to present, and has been named Academic All-Conference, Academic All-State, and Academic All-American. She is involved with the College’s orientation team and the Sister 4 Sister mentoring program for African-American students, and served as a Gatway mentor and a PAL tutor for two years. Leya is a Boone Honors Program mentor, a cohort representative to the Honors Advisory Council, and was nominated for the 2019 Honors Scholar of the Year through the Virginia Collegiate Honors Council. She has consistently maintained a 4.0 GPA.
As if those activities weren’t enough to keep her busy, she also stepped in to serve as an editor for Ferrum College’s magazine, Chrysalis Literary & Arts, which won her the Chrysalis Staff Member of the Year Award during the College’s recent Academic Awards Ceremony on April 12. Leya was named to the National Society of Leadership and Success, Psi Chi, and Sigma Tau Delta. She received the Unsung Hero Award during her second year at Ferrum College, which is given to a person who works tirelessly but unselfishly, without the motive of drawing attention to oneself. Without question, Leya exhibits the College’s motto: Not Self, But Others.
Leya’s long-term goal is to be an educational psychologist, but she is currently considering additional higher education. “I want to be involved in the lives of young adults,” Leya explained. “This is a delicate time where we are in between teenagers and adulthood and people expect young adults to have everything figured out. I really want to be able to model that anyone can achieve their goals despite adversities. I want to guide them through this journey and provide them with the resources necessary to make their goals come true.”
“Leya’s academic success at Ferrum and the impression she has left upon the faculty are uniformly outstanding,” remarked Professor of English and Director of the Boone Honors Program Lana Whited, who nominated Leya for the 2019 VCHC award. “It is no exaggeration to say that her faculty cannot figure out when Leya Deickman sleeps, or how she maintains her characteristic cheery, upbeat disposition. She is a remarkable young woman.”
She “has a level of maturity and ability to manage any number of activities that I’ve seen in very few students – maybe only three or four – in 35 years of teaching,” explained Katherine Grimes, associate professor of English, who taught Leya three English courses and an honors seminar.
But her most important accomplishment makes all the rest pale in comparison. Despite her rigorous schedule, Leya is the dedicated mother to little Kendall, a happy, remarkably adorable four-year-old boy. She and Kendall’s father, nicknamed Big Kendall, are both students at Ferrum College and are steadfast in their commitment to family and education. Despite their youth, they show up for each other in big ways: Big Kendall held off on his education for a year to watch Little Kendall while Leya began her studies at Ferrum, and Leya has been diligent in her goal to graduate. She will complete her undergraduate work in only three years, as opposed to the traditional four. Big Kendall is on track to graduate in 2021 with a degree in health and human performance and coaching.
Big Kendall attributes the family’s success to their commitment to each other: “All three of us feed off of each other. Believe it or not, our four-year-old will try to motivate us in the best way he can! We are a team,” and to their network of Ferrum College friends: “People offer to watch Little Kendall while we write a paper or do a project. The College is great, but the people make it even greater.”
Leya agrees and is adamant Ferrum College gave her the tools to be successful. “When I found Ferrum, I instantly found a second home. From day one, I felt like I belonged here,” Leya explained. “Through thought provoking conversations, individualized classroom settings, and countless hours of community service, Ferrum has prepared me to help others. If I can give people half of what Ferrum has given to me, I know I can help make the world a better place. I am not only excited, but honored to be an alumna of such an inspirational institution.”