North Central News

Exceptional programs and inspiring mentors helped first-year North Central College student pave a unique path forward

Kara Kots

Feb 03, 2021

North Central College student Elizah Leonard.Business management major Elizah Leonard ’24 found her home away from home in Naperville, Ill. A strong sense of community, inspiring mentors and exceptional opportunities inside and outside of the classroom showed Leonard North Central College was the right fit for her. “North Central had everything I wanted,” said Leonard. “The campus size and the idea that I wouldn’t be (just) a number to professors really helped me want to come here.” 

Although this is Leonard’s first year on campus, she has already paved her own distinct path through her involvement in Cardinal First and the women’s wrestling team. An award-winning program at North Central, Cardinal First supports first-generation students with the help with the help of first-generation faculty and staff. Through workshops, meetings and events, students learn a structured approach to help them succeed in the classroom, on campus and in their careers. 

The best part for Leonard is the tight-knit community. “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one,” Leonard said. “If I ever have questions, no matter what they are, there are people there to help me figure them out.” 

Following her passion, Leonard also competes on the women’s wrestling team. When asked what she enjoys most about wrestling, Leonard answered, “I really enjoy the coaches and the attitudes of the other team members. They are always willing to help, even with things outside of wrestling. It makes me feel like I made the right decision to come to North Central.” 

North Central College student Elizah Leonard participates in a pow-wow.In addition to being a first-generation college student and athlete, Leonard also identifies as a proud member of the Native American Hoocak Nation, covering parts of Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Hoocak, or Ho-Chunk as it is more commonly spelled, means people of the big voice. 

Ho-Chunks are very prideful and thoughtful in the sense that we don’t have a word for sorry, meaning everything we say and do is exactly what it should be,” stated Leonard. “As a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation I try to live without regret and follow my elders so that our culture can continue.” 

One way Leonard follows the Ho-Chunk tradition is by participating in pow-wows, Native American gatherings where tribes from all over North America come together to dance, sing and eat. 

“I try my absolute best in everything I do because I am very proud to be Ho-Chunk, and I want to make my tribe proud,” expressed Leonard. “Being Ho-Chunk makes me feel powerful and strong, because I know I have so many people behind me. Ho-Chunks always take care of their own, and they support one other in everything they do.”