Local senior wins scholarship to study in Germany
North Fort Myers High School senior Leila Younges will soon travel to Germany to study for one year after earning a coveted scholarship.
“It’s a foreign exchange student scholarship for Americans to go to Germany for a year. It’s sponsored by the German and American governments,” she said.
It is a full scholarship that covers all of Younges’ expenses.
“We are very proud of Leila,” said North Fort Myers High School Principal Kimberly Lunger. “This scholarship is something she has set her sights on since she entered school here.”
Younges said it has been a long journey to achieve the goal of getting the scholarship, a process she started her freshman year.
“I was looking forward to applying then,” she said.
In her last year, Younges took evening classes several nights a week to achieve the grade point average that would help her secure the scholarship.
Although the final destination is Germany, there are exciting stops along the way until she reports to her assigned school overseas.
“We first go to Washington, D.C., for a seminar, so everyone can get to know each other,” Younges said, referring to the other students who won scholarships. “We’ll be there two days, then we go to a language camp for three weeks so everyone is more acquainted with the language.”
Then it is off to Germany.
Languages and Germany are both passions for Younges.
“I’m looking forward to becoming fluent in German and learning several more languages,” she said.
The trip will also provide an opportunity for Younges to connect to her heritage.
“My father, Ousama Younges, went to school in Germany,” she said. “I have German ancestry, so I’m continuing that part of my family heritage.”
Her mother, Robin, also studied German.
“She said she’s very proud of me,” Younges said.
She has already been to Germany on several occasions, and she has extensively traveled Europe.
“My mom and I like to travel. I’ve been to 11 countries,” Younges said. “I liked Germany the best — the landscape, the scenery and everyone there is so nice, even if your German isn’t that great.”
She has also visited the European nation on several North Fort Myers High-sponsored trips.
“My German teacher, Ms. (Linda) Hissam, has a Euro trip every year,” Younges said. “I went my freshman year and this past summer.”
“I think this is really wonderful,” said Hissam. “She’s so deserving of this. This is someone with a fantastic vocabulary and maturity to handle the experience of living in Germany.
“She was highly motivated, going to night school to improve her GPA, and traveled with me twice to the country on a shoestring,” Hissam continued. “She made friends everywhere she went.”
A creative individual, Younges also likes to paint and draw.
She will attend a high school in Germany, after fulfilling her credits at North Fort Myers High.
Younges said she wanted to wait to study overseas, rather than spend her senior year there. It was a conscious decision so she would not have a problem transferring credits.
With Younges’ educational requirements fulfilled in the United States, she can concentrate on becoming fluent in German and take different classes.
“I look forward to be able to go to the museums, enjoy the food and the culture,” she said. “There is so much history there.”