LUBBOCK, Texas– A senior from Talkington School for Young Women Leaders recently won an international scholarship that will allow her to participate in an overseas business program. Her family told KLBK News on Tuesday that she is one of the first Texans to be accepted into the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Accelerator Programme (LEAP) and one of three students representing the United States.
As a member of the debate team, cheerleading squad and theatre program, Payton Harrison has a bright future ahead of her.
When she heard about the video essay contest, she thought, ‘why not give it a try?’.
Payton found out she won in April and will leave for Jersey, an island off the north-west coast of France, by the end of the week. She will travel with a classmate from Talkington who was also accepted into the program; both making history as the first two Texans to ever win the opportunity.
“There is nothing you can’t do if you set your mind to it, and honestly, what’s the worst that can happen? They say ‘no’ and you go find a different door,” Payton said.
“I chose environmental and focused on recycling. My product is made from recycled materials and once you’re done with it, it can be recycled [and] made into a new product,” the high school senior explained.
Payton’s mother, Traci Harrison, said she didn’t realize what her daughter applied for until she won.
“We weren’t paying that much attention to it when she first was applying. When she mentioned ‘Jersey,’ we thought she meant New Jersey.” Traci said. “So, we were a little surprised that she was going off the coast of France, but it’s just neat to see her focus her energies on what she really wants to do. We’re so proud of her.”
Talkington is part of the Young Women’s Preparatory Network, “which really is a great network as far as focusing on elevating minorities in areas, and it’s great to see these opportunities presented to these girls. Otherwise, we’d never know about them,” her mom said.
Payton is working on getting a pilot’s license, but she said she also is interested in taking after her parents who are small, local business owners.
“I’ve thought about owning my own flight academy, but I definitely want to be a pilot,” Payton said.
The LEAP Programme will allow Payton to grow her business, leadership and entrepreneurial skills while targeting global issues, the family explained.
“I’m most excited to meet the people that we share this big, beautiful world with. I’m excited to make some new friends,” Payton said. She has already met her host family via zoom.
At the end of the 2.5 week program, Payton said she will have the chance to pitch ideas to investors on the reality TV show “Dragon’s Den,” which is the British equivalent to Shark Tank in the U.S.
“I’m probably most nervous to actually talk to those people in the Dragon’s Den , because I watched Shark Tank and they’re scary sometimes,” she said. “But nothing I can’t handle.”
Payton is the oldest of three girls and her younger sisters said they are excited for her journey.
“She always tries so hard, and everything she does, she puts her full work ethic into. She makes sure that she can do the best she can. So, the fact that she got it proves that you can do anything you put your mind to. I’m so excited for her,” Payton’s sister Briley said.
And if something doesn’t work out in Payton’s life, “she just she keeps smiling [and] trying again,” her other sister Taylor said.
And when asked what advice she would give to young girls who want to pursue their dreams, Payton said, “Just do it. There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it.”