Since 2012, the Delaware Youth Leadership Network (DYLN) has been a catalyst for student growth, especially in the areas of leadership, networking, and public speaking, through the experiences it offers to high school students. Only rising juniors from a Delaware high school with at least a 3.0 GPA can apply to this prestigious and competitive program. The application process is rigorous, requiring written essays, an interview with a panel of teachers and administrators at the candidates’ respective high schools, and an afternoon of one-on-one interviews with DYLN leadership.
Albert Opher '21 became interested in DYLN as a result of his interactions with Sanford students who were alumni of the program. “I was motivated by their successes and enthusiasm and became inspired to apply,” shared Opher.
DYLN Founder and Executive Director Margaret O’Dwyer contacted Upper School Counselor Sarah Satinsky to notify Sanford of Opher’s acceptance into this year’s class. She stated: “We had a very strong candidate pool this year, so he (Opher) should feel proud of this accomplishment.”
As a member of the 2020 cadre, Opher will meet with fellow DYLN Scholars at least once a month to participate in activities designed to inspire, motivate, and develop them into becoming the leaders of tomorrow. DYLN Scholars are exposed to innovative problem-solving processes known as design thinking, as well as volunteer their time with community service projects. The organization's website says: “Through inspirational speakers, mentors, and activities that push our students to think differently, we equip DYLN Scholars with the skills, tools, and insight to lead impactful lives.”
Certainly, Opher has developed a resume worthy of such an honor. He has maintained a record of outstanding academic achievement and has sought the challenges and rigor of both honors and AP classes. A few honors he has garnered throughout his high school career are First Honors, Honor Roll, and induction into the National French Honor Society.
Outside of the classroom, Opher has spent the last two summers at a highly selective residential engineering program at the University of Pennsylvania known as Engineering Summer at Penn (ESAP). ESAP offers high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses taught by Ivy League professors exposing students to rigors beyond high school engineering curriculums. Opher graduated with top grades from both ESAP’s Computer Science and Robotics courses, respectively. He elaborated: “My summers at ESAP were transformative. The challenge and pace of the coursework, nights and weekends in the lab, and final collaborative team projects further developed my communication, writing, design, programming, and technical presentation skills. All of those experiences will be with me as I develop additional leadership skills with DYLN.”
Maintaining a busy schedule is not new to Opher, and he is excited to add his participation in DYLN into the mix. He is a varsity soccer player, a varsity sailor, a junior varsity basketball player, and a member of the Math League, Science Olympiad, Jazz Band, and the Diversity Alliance and Chess Clubs. Additionally, Opher serves as Treasurer of his junior class. He is also the Founder of IVBeatz, a DJ and music production company, and has worked at weddings, school dances, and private parties. He has even created soundtracks for an upcoming Netflix series, “Retro.”
One of the goals of DYLN is to help their scholars apply their experience in the program to every facet of their lives – in academics, on athletic fields, in clubs and extracurricular activities. It is hoped that they will understand the importance of leading by example. Certainly, Opher is already busy developing his skills and talents in a multitude of ways. He concluded: “I am honored to represent Sanford as a 2020 DYLN Scholar, and I look forward to further developing myself through participation in the program. I am committed to doing my very best to be a positive example, especially here at Sanford. I’m also grateful to my family, friends, teachers and administrators for their support.”