LEAP Participates in Career Engagement Opportunity

Alumni, Learn Engage Achieve Program, News

Lee University’s LEAP (Learn Engage Achieve Program) staff and students recently visited Mountain Oaks Manor in Ooltewah, Tennessee, for a career engagement opportunity.

LEAP Director Angela Waltrip partnered with Sonya Guffey, the owner of Mountain Oaks Manor, to bring a group of 14 students to her tea room for this event. Guffey shared the history of the Historic James County Courthouse that she purchased in 2017 which now functions as a tea room, bridal, wedding, and catering business.

Also present with Waltrip and the students were other LEAP staff, Kathi Douglas and Amber DeLong. Students dressed in their finest for the occasion, while Guffey and her staff provided tea hats.

As students enjoyed their meals, they learned from Guffey’s 30+ years of experience in the wedding/catering industry. She spoke about obtaining a limited liability company, health codes, inspiring dishes, surviving COVID, and the importance of creativity when generating ideas.

“Students walked away from the career site visit motivated, inspired, and delighted with how beautiful things can turn into a beautiful business,” said Waltrip.

LEAP started in 2015 and is a federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services Program. Ideal candidates for the program are first generation, income qualifying and disability students. As part of this federal grant, students are encouraged to engage with the community to learn about career readiness.

The program currently provides individual success coaching, peer mentors, direct student aid, financial aid counseling, financial literacy education, cultural and academic enrichment opportunities, and other personalized services according to individual students’ needs.

For more information about LEAP, visit

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