LEAP scholar travels to Belgium fueled by Van Gogh’s artistic energy

LEAP scholar travels to Belgium fueled by Van Gogh’s artistic energy

LEAP Foundation DC is pleased to award a 2018 LEAP Scholarship to Jamaru Williams, a student at Xaverian High School. The scholarship honors a student who, through studying abroad, will nurture a natural drive to be a leader. This year’s Bruges, Belgium, exchange will take place from Feb. 16 through 26, and includes a visit to Paris, France, where the rich architecture and art will be thoroughly explored. Williams hopes to soak up some of the residual energy of his favorite artist, Vincent van Gogh, who he credits for inspiring him to seize the opportunity. LEAP’s $1,050 scholarship will allow Williams to fully enjoy all the exchange has to offer.

Williams has an interest in the medical field, particularly genetics, as well as bioethics, psychology, astrophysics, philosophy, poetry, art, literature and photography. He hopes that participating in his school’s student exchange program in Bruges, Belgium, will afford him the opportunity to not only expand his academics, but help develop an expanding mindset that will aid in future professions. He offered a quote by artist Van Gogh, to emphasize his journey to pursue his passions.

“‘I am seeking. I am striving. I am in it with all my heart,’ – this quote is from one of my personal pillars of wise, artistic energy,” Williams said. “I am interested in a great opportunity that’ll hopefully help shape me into the leader I aspire to be one day. Xaverian Student Exchange Program Bruges, Belgium, is an opportunity for a possible destination along my venture to my ultimate goal.”

Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter whose art is known for stirring emotion in its admirers. The vivid colors, combined with a wild imagination and simple observation, have been telling tales to viewers since the 1800s – stories of travel, life, death, struggle and seizing the moment when it calls. Although his life ended much too soon, he left behind more than 2,100 works. Williams said he is fueled by that artistic energy to seek and strive with all his heart. Much like the artist, he considers himself a “free spirit, naturally willing to step outside of my environment or norms to explore, travel and experience new cultures and lifestyles than my own.”

The school offers the opportunity to study abroad each year and student Griffin Skammel said the 2017 trip was “an experience filled with life lessons, hospitality, and waffles.” He called the opportunity one of the best decisions of his life – learning that “there is more to life than just going to work, getting your paycheck and going home.”

Teacher Dylan Larkin said participating in the exchange will allow Williams to delve into the historical significance of the Xaverian Brother’s Sponsored School in Bruges, as well as explore the country in relation to World War II. Williams regularly will participate in science and technology classes that offer a vastly different perspective for American students.

“Anytime we have an opportunity to help nurture a student’s natural ability to lead, we are eager to offer support,” said Dr. Clayton Lawrence, LEAP Foundation DC President and CEO. “When Jamaru shared his interest in exploring the world around him in relation to expanding his future opportunities, we saw an individual who has the drive and determination to be a future leader. Jamaru is interested in voicing his concerns for the upcoming future of mankind and current events. This takes a lot of courage as a young student nearly ready to make his mark on the world around him. We are proud to be a part of his pursuit.”

Since 2009, LEAP Foundation DC has been actively engaged in mentorship and leadership opportunities to help make a positive impact on the Washington D.C. community and the surrounding areas. The nonprofit strives to invest in and help inspire the next generation of talented leaders. For more information about LEAP Foundation DC, visit https://leapfoundationdc.org.


LEAP Foundation DC, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity, was founded in 2009, by Dr. Clayton G. Lawrence to address the unmet social and health needs of the people of the District of Columbia. By providing educational and training opportunities, LEAP’s programs advocate for the health and wellness of community members, deliver services to individuals and families in need, support local organizations in their efforts to improve their community, and provide a stage and voice for those who are overlooked and disregarded.

Van Gogh is a creative pillar of LEAP scholar Williams

Van Gogh is a creative pillar of LEAP scholar Williams