Our #WCW is from a small town in Colorado and moved to New York nearly six years ago to attend school. Leah Gervais loves everything this city has to offer and writes about making the most of it as a millennial at www.urban20something.com and is also co-founding a new nonprofit in New York called Act New York City.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
Just like every young girl, I dreamed of moving to New York City and becoming a prima ballerina, but it was sort of the childhood fairytale I never grew out of! My ballet dreams were sadly shattered when I was in high school because of my severe scoliosis, but New York never died. Fast forward 20 years later, I’m two years out of college here and spend as much time as possible taking advantage of living in this city. My dream is to help others make the most out of living in cities in their 20s, too.
2. What motivates you?
Those who give. Living in New York, I’m exposed daily to all sorts of walks of life. Everyone here has something they’re doing, somewhere they need to go and someone they need to see. The determination you see in people on the streets alone is inspiring, but there is nothing more powerful than witnessing a simple act of kindness.
3. Who is a hero of yours?
My father! He is the greatest guy I know. He has taught me what it means to follow my dreams and the incredible value of hard work. He taught me the importance of family and supporting those that you love. He has always believed in me, even when I’ve doubted myself. Most of all, he has taught me the power of gratitude and the extreme importance of daily emphasis on it. I only hope that I can light the flames within my children that he and my mother lit within me to pursue my dreams and never settle.
4. What's your future plan? Your goals?
My career and future goals have been, for as long as I can remember, to pursue philanthropy and to empower others. Up until very recently, I’ve had a very structured plan for how to achieve this goal, which included graduate school and a solid, lucrative career path. However, I have recently decided to abandon this structured path to pursue my own path. I’m slightly terrified, but I’m mostly excited to see what this holds for me! My end goal remains the same, however, I simply feel that achieving it through my own route will allow me to have the greatest impact, because it will be a personalized path based on my own interests, passions and strengths.
5. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t stress. And yes, stress is in your control. Have faith in yourself and faith that things will work out, because so long as you work hard and are determined, things will work out. Stress is just an energy waster and an enemy to healthy skin ;).
6. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
When it comes to volunteer or philanthropy work, it’s overly associated with helping those facing tragedy: those without homes, those without food, those without access to education. Those causes are extremely important, but I also think it’s also important to remember the small, little acts of kindness we can give to those around us everyday, even those with more money or better health than we have. I feel strongly that no charitable act being too large or too small and no person being too deserving or not deserving enough.
7. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?
This last summer I lived the adventure of a lifetime in rafting the entirety of the Grand Canyon! It is definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever done. It was so separated from the rest of my life, from the rest of humanity! I had never felt so present anywhere. It was basically a two-week meditative experience in one of the most beautiful places on earth. I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list!
If you'd like to reach out to Leah for mentorship opportunities or want to be featured on her blog, you can reach her HERE.