Reading = Success for Summit Alumna-Turned-Counselor Nashali De Leon

Summit Alumna and current Counselor Nashali De Leon truly understands the value of reading and attributes much of it to her success - and she hopes to inspire the young girls on her team to work hard and achieve their own goals too!

Nashali has been a part of Summit's High School College Bound Program and served as a Junior Counselors for the past two summers. Both of those summers, she was the Number 1 reader in the Read-A-Thon program, reading 4,456 pages last summer! Additionally, Nashali graduated as valedictorian of her class at St. Anthony High School this past May. While applying to colleges, she was awarded full scholarships to both the University of Notre Dame and the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She will attend UW-Madison this fall and plans to study speech pathology.


Summit: Nashali, you first started coming to Summit as a high school student; what attracted you to the programs and what continues to keep you coming back?

Nashali: Before I first started working as a Junior Counselor at the suggestion of one of my good friends, I didn't really know a lot about Summit, but I started to love it right away. I was able to help the young girls on my team in different ways - whether they needed a math tutor or a role model, I was able to be that person in their lives. I personally didn't have a role model like that growing up, and I truly see the value that the girls receive. I love seeing the girls make progress over the course of the summer. I keep coming back because not only am I able to help others, but because I am always growing and learning at Summit.

How do you think developing a love of reading helped you to do well in school accomplish your goals?

I hated to read when I was younger - my family moved to the US when I was in 5th grade, and I was frustrated because I struggled to read in English. I gradually started to learn how to read on my own, and I got a huge sense of accomplishment and confidence from this. Books became my best friends; reading helped me to improve my vocabulary, grammar and different tenses, and even with my accent. I learned more from books than I did from my teachers in school.

Reading didn't just help with reading class - every subject in school required it, even math class, and I did well in school because I loved to read. I think I would have fallen behind, like some of my friends did, if I hadn't liked to read.


Learning to love reading made me much more dependent on myself to take control of my own learning. I know that no one else was going to do that but me. Developing a love of reading helped me to take initiative to reach my goals, to become more ambitious, to not slack off and I learned to practice perseverance and determination in all areas of my life.

How did the Read-A-Thon help you to become a better reader?

The Read-A-Thon helped me in a couple of ways. I had a goal to do well on the ACT, and I knew that I needed to read more challenging books to accomplish that. The Read-A-Thon gave me motivation to stay focused and work towards that goal. Reading the books for the Read-A-Thon helped me to prepare for the ACT by learning to read quickly and comprehend the material - so I had to read quickly and efficiently under pressure.

I discovered my favorite book at Summit during the Read-A-Thon last summer - Pride and Prejudice. I love it not only because the romance part is entertaining, but also because it has many other ideas, themes, and life lessons that can be drawn from the text. It takes place in the 1800s, but many of the topics in it are still relevant today and true to human nature.

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This summer as a counselor, how do you hope to inspire the girls on your team to become avid readers?

While talking to the parents of the girls on my team, I found that all of them need help and motivation in reading. Now I talk to all of the girls - both as a team and individually in advising - about the books they are reading and how they can relate to the characters. I try to get them excited by sharing my passion with them, and they like to follow the example I set for them. I've noticed a change with some of the girls even in the the first week; now they are asking me, "can we read our Read-A-Thon books now?!"

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Nicole Heger