Cody grew up on the Nez Pierce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, knowing she wanted to experience life outside her community but not where she would go or how she would get there. “The kids on the western side of Route 95, on the reservation, have a firm self-prescribed path,” she recalled. Thanks to LEDA she had the opportunity to explore other possibilities. “It all started for me when [LEDA Recruitment Officer] Alyssa Orrantia gave me permission to think differently. She said, ‘You are smart, and there is a world beyond Lapwai.'”
As a member of LEDA’s Cohort 2, Cody attended the Aspects of Leadership Summer Institute at Princeton University in the summer of 2006. For her it was an intense, life-changing experience that ignited what she described as a “hunger for the words of Emerson, Jefferson, and King,” challenging her to look beyond her state college. Returning home for her senior year in high school, Cody eagerly shared what she had learned at LEDA with her community – even mentoring two younger students in her school who were later admitted to LEDA. One went on to attend DePauw University, the other Stanford.
Cody helped to nurture the LEDA Scholar community at Dartmouth, organizing gatherings and hosting visiting Scholars, while also building her own on-campus network. “Throughout my Dartmouth experience, I searched for supportive adults who created a shelter of LEDA-like support for me,” she said. She returned to the Summer Institute at the end of her freshman year as a College Guidance assistant, a role that that led to her later joining Dartmouth’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions, for which she coordinated the college’s Native American fly-in program.
After graduating in 2011, Cody spent a year in the Republic of the Marshall Islands as a teacher, and this experience solidified her true passion: identifying highly qualified students and providing them with opportunities to pursue their dreams. After returning from the Marshall Islands, she joined Wesleyan University as an assistant dean of admission. The university’s “commitment to access and to organizations like LEDA sealed the deal for me,” she said. “I found an office that spoke my language.”
Cody remains an active member of the LEDA community. Her recruitment travels take her to the Southwest and back to Idaho, where she tries to find and inspire promising students the way LEDA inspired her. “I encourage students to ask questions and to try things that fascinate them,” she said. “Maybe, just maybe, they will begin to question their environment and its norms, and look beyond them.”