LEAD 360 Reflection: Dream Boxes

February 10, 2016 by mitchellcohen

2015 was a monumental year for LEAD360 winner, Patricia Manubay. Her project, Dream Boxes, inspired students to dream big by giving them a box of school supplies along with a note of encouragement.

The LEAD360 program helped activate and scale Dream Boxes, and thanks to her hard work, over 67,000 Dream Boxes were donated across the world! Below, Patricia shares her reflection on all she achieved and her enduring commitment to public service.

This year’s LEAD360 BIG IDEAS contest is live, and you can vote here to decide which 3 projects we’ll activate across the country – just like Dream Boxes.

Patricia 2


One of my first assignments my first year in student government was to write about my “personal legend”; a concept from the book, The Alchemist. Basically, a personal legend is what your purpose is (a pretty big topic for a fourteen-year-old). Unlike my peers who got involved in music, sports, dance, or science in high school, I became fond of an unpopular interest: writing. I loved telling and writing stories; seeing ideas come to life, I began seeing my life as a story itself.

This realization made me feel in control. My fourteen-year-old self wrote that my personal legend was to help other people find their personal legends, and my purpose was to help other people find their purpose. I was determined to help others be aware of the same realization I had; it became my dream. I wanted to help people find their voices, realize their greatness and influence, know that their dreams are realistic, and accept that they matter; all things I struggled with before writing and before service.

This year was crazy for me; at first I looked at it as totally impossible, but as the year went on, things became more realistic. When I first heard about LEAD360 I was very nonchalant about it, and I almost did not turn in a project. I ended up turning it in the night before it was due. I knew then that I always wanted to create a non­profit after high school so I saw this opportunity and I asked myself, “why not?” The idea of Dream Boxes came from my love of writing and reading, my passion for education, but most of all it stemmed from my personal legend. When I heard that I won for my category, all at once, I felt a surge of responsibility, but I was then reassured by my personal legend—that finally, it was my time.

Things were challenging, but not difficult. Out of the three projects, mine was the only one that was completely new—the other two were already nonprofits years before even applying for LEAD360. Dream Boxes was just an idea and this made me feel very intimidated and pressured throughout the year: no funds, no networks, no partnerships. I felt like I constantly had to prove myself: that although I am a new project I still have the capability to do the same. I was so used to Students In Action and leading a team where I wasn’t the face of everything, now I had to embrace the fact that I had to be the face of Dream Boxes. This made it a little awkward trying to form a team, so it was mostly the Jefferson Awards Foundation, my family, a couple of friends, and myself at most things—trust me when I say I probably wouldn’t be where I am without them.

Dream Boxes felt like I was running a small business on a tight schedule, which I enjoyed. I loved collecting money, creating fliers, public speaking, planning events; things that I was already familiar with from student government and Students In Action. As I look back at the year, I see holes and mistakes here and there that I could improve on, like the fact that I should have been more organized counting supplies and boxes. The press I got from the media was new and strange to me, but overall it was a good experience and helped me become a better speaker and gave me the opportunity to brand myself. Along the way I got better at responding to emails, pitching myself and Dream Boxes, and became so much better at public speaking. It was my first semester of college and my first job, but I was able to manage well. I’d even say Dream Boxes has even helped me time manage, keep myself organized, and keep my grades up.Patricia 1

Most of all, I loved working with groups and organizations like the Silicon Valley Foundation and Students In Action clubs because these were people who saw my project, agreed with my belief in education and dreams, and decided to take it on. Working with them made me realize that when people take on Dream Boxes, they make it their own; some decorate the boxes, some add in pictures of their team, some add in little trinkets and toys—like putting a piece of you in every Dream Box.

No feeling can beat the feeling I get when I talk to the students. Giving back to my old elementary school, Daniel Webster, was one of the best decisions I made. I felt like I was a little 2nd grader again who believed in changing the world and now I am a college student who believes in changing the world. Children have this light in them that shines when you ask them what their dream is; they are so excited to share it. I remember talking to a group of very attentive fourth graders and I was going on about how important education was and how their dreams are realistic and I took a moment to really make eye contact with some of them while I was talking and they were all nodding their heads agreeing. I felt alive.

I believe I can do anything, but I know I can’t do everything. I know I will have to make a few adjustments and become a GlobeChanger and I think I’m ready to make those changes.

Overall this year was amazing and I couldn’t be more grateful for the people I was able to meet and work with, as well as the opportunities I was given. I owe the universe a thank you. I wanted to change the world. I may not have changed the world in less than a year, but I was able to influence over 67,000 students across the country and in the Philippines and have inspired my friends, family, and community to give back. It’s not exactly changing the world, but it’s one step closer; I can almost see it.

Click here to learn more about LEAD360.

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