Now he is set for an internship with a billion-dollar bank before he transfers to the University of Virginia this fall.
On May 13, Leach, 23, will graduate from Tidewater Community College with his Associate of Science in Business Administration. Leach has been accepted into Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce, consistently ranked as one of the nation’s best undergraduate business programs.
“From a young age, I was interested in how the economy works. I remember asking my dad why we can’t just print more money for people who need it,” Leach said with a laugh. “It just made sense that I study business because the only classes I performed well in during high school were statistics, economics and accounting.”
Leach redirected his competitive spirit from hockey to academics. “I saw TCC as an opportunity to reinvent myself,” he said. “Initially, I was unsure about my academic ability, but I knew I wanted to do something where I could shoot for the stars again.”
Griffin Leach in his own words
Leach excelled inside and outside the classroom. He maintained a perfect GPA and served as president of the Student Government Association and vice president of Phi Theta Kappa on the Chesapeake Campus.
He was also a mentor for Gear Up To Lead, an engagement and leadership development program at TCC. He was one of two TCC students selected as a CIVIC Scholar, which connects college students to local business and community leaders.
During his final semester at TCC, Leach started the Investment Club to engage like-minded students in business-related conversations, ranging from economic trends to accounting. “I wanted to bring a group together so we could interact and learn from each other,” he said.
Leach credits economics Professor Sean LaCroix with helping to establish the club and for being his favorite professor.
Professor Peter Shaw, who teaches business administration and management on the Norfolk Campus, said Leach made an impression on him.
“Griffin is the kind of young man you meet every 10 years. Intelligent, well-reasoned, mature, he’s got a terrific future ahead of him,” Shaw said.
After he met Leach, he picked up the phone and called Clyde McFarland, senior vice president and chief financial officer of TowneBank, a TCC alum and one of Shaw’s classmates. A few weeks later, Leach had an offer from TowneBank for a full-time, paid internship.
Leach is a recipient of Phi Theta Kappa’s 2016 Pearson Scholar for Higher Education, the society’s first renewable scholarship and mentorship program supporting associate and bachelor degree completion. He was awarded a $5,000 scholarship, a Pearson mentor and a medallion.
Leach was also named a Gold Scholar with the 2017 Coca-Cola Community College scholars program, earning a $1,500 award.
He said the Chesapeake Campus became like family to him, and he appreciates the opportunities the college offered.
“I absolutely know that if I’d gone to university right off the bat, I would not have had so many doors open,” he said. “I firmly believe that if you have the drive and the will, you really can go anywhere from here.”
Leach encourages students not to sell TCC short. “Don’t look at TCC as someplace you had to go, but see it as a great opportunity with unlimited resources.”