A StepUp Program


Resilience, Empathy, and Authenticity for Developing Youth

Leadership and Development for Teens and Young Adults

Created in collaboration between practitioners, high-achieving students and student-athletes, the READY program provides high school, college and post college students with an empowering environment where they can support each other on a journey of self-discovery and maturation. Through READY, participants will build courage, perseverance, and a sense of purpose in each other’s mutual betterment that they can adapt and pay forward into their future as emboldened young adults.

Speaker Series

Wanting to be inspired and learn more about our program?

Our speaker series is free and open to the public.

Hear stories of resilience brought to life through our peer-to-peer discussion model.

Summer Development Program Kickoff -
Tommy McGuire: Building Resilience in the Face of Adversity

June 11th, 7:30 - 8:45
Virtual, Facilitated by READY's Mentors Team

Recording available for those who weren't able to attend
- more details to come

Mentoring Program

Wanting to join our READY community and peer-mentor programming?

Our full mentoring program is available to members for a $285 seasonal fee.

Summer Development Program:
Small Group Mentoring
1:1 Mentoring

1 Virtual Session/Week
7:30 - 8:45 PM

Opt out available after one month at no cost
Scholarships & bundle pricing available upon request

Inquiries at stepupcoaching30@gmail.com

Summer Development Program

A three-month VIRTUAL program (June 11 to August 29) designed to help youth learn to individually and collectively turn adversity into opportunity. 

Joining READY’s membership allows participants each month to attend large keynote sessions, small group sessions, 1:1 mentorship sessions, coaching sessions, and more.


Week 1 (June 11): Keynote Speaker – Thomas McGuire


1 Meeting Per Participant within Each Week

Week 2 (June 17-21): Small Group Discussions

Week 3 (June 24-28) : 1:1 Mentoring

Week 4 (July 1-5): 1:1 Mentoring

Week 5 (July 8-12): Guest Speaker – TBA

Week 6 (July 15-19): Small Group Discussions

Week 7 (July 22-26) : 1:1 Mentoring

Week 8 (July 29-August 2): 1:1 Mentoring

Week 9 (August 5-9): Guest Speaker – TBA

Week 10 (August 12-16): Small Group Discussions

Week 11 (August 19-23) : 1:1 Mentoring

Week 12 (August 26-29): 1:1 Mentoring


Core Themes & Values

  • Navigating uncertainty & the future
  • Learning from failure & adversity
  • Setting and pursuing goals
  • Building self-image
  • Deepening relationships
  • Handling pressure & performance
  • Maturing through life-transitions
  • Battling injury & health
  • Forming productive habits
  • Adopting meaningful responsibility

Why join READY?

In READY, participants will learn the personal and social skills necessary to both thrive and survive as a young adult in today’s world: Resilience, Empathy, and Authenticity.

They will seek the courage, perseverance, and sense of meaning in one another that they can each adapt and pay forward into all their future endeavors.

Through this practice, we hope to all become not only better listeners, communicators, and emotional thinkers, but sons and daughters, friends and teammates, and leaders.

This is how our culture moves from one of social isolation to collaborative development. This is READY.

Summer Program Kick-Off & FREE Keynote

Thomas McGuire

Building Resilience in the Face of Adversity

June 11th

Thomas McGuire began his journey at the age of 22 when he experienced a life-altering accident that left him as a C4 quadriplegic. Despite his new world of immense challenges, Thomas emerged as a beacon of strength and optimism. His story serves as a testament to the power of the human spirit and a reminder that the human potential knows no bounds.

Come join our READY Team as we speak with Thomas about his ongoing journey of hope & perseverance that has inspired him to pursue coaching and public speaking.

“This is the most important program any school or university could have for the well-being of our youth.”

Featured Testimonials

"I only wish I had this program when I was a teenager, to process my feelings in a loving, productive way."
"You will leave with a new group of trusted confidants to face life's unique challenges."
Register for the next READY session today!
"This is the most important program any school or university could have for the well-being of our youth."
"READY has completely changed my life for the better. I have already seen so much growth in myself."
"READY demonstrated that no one is ever alone and a lot of us are fighting the same battles, just at different stages."


Jackson Appelt (Co-Founder)

Jackson Appelt is a passionate mentor and coach for young adults seeking deep and meaningful purpose in their lives. He has a degree in Translational Medicine from the University of Virginia and served as a member of Research Training Programs at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and Dana Farber Cancer Center in Boston. With a desire to become a pediatric neurosurgeon oncologist, Jackson is a 1st year medical student at Vanderbilt University as of Summer 2024. 

Throughout his time at UVA, Jackson was an activist for well-being and resilience in young adults and spearheaded multiple programs focused on the importance of peer support in leadership and emotional health, based on the essential principle that resilience lies not in the capacity to face our hardships alone, but the courage to embrace our adversities together. This resulted in the formation of the first peer-based, socio-emotional development course offered to UVA students, titled ‘Resilience and Authenticity for the Young Adult’ that led to programs still present at UVA. He also served as a vocal leader on two National Championship lacrosse teams and used his experiences as a student-athlete to develop a model for self-actualization in young adults. This work led to the launch of the READY (Resilience, Empathy, Authenticity for Developing Young Adults) program. 

Jackson has 8+ years of experience as a coach, tutor, and mentor, for both students and student-athletes and is Co-Founder and a Lead Facilitator of READY. He is guided by his philosophies of courage, faith, and resilience as a pathway to ultimate meaning and fulfillment.


Beau is a Founding Member and Facilitator of READY. Beau graduated in 2021 with a degree in Commerce from the University of Virginia, where he was also a member and leader of the perennially ranked Men’s Soccer team. He is now a Manager of Business Analytics for Capital One in the DC Area. 

Beau is a driven, compassionate leader looking to make a difference in the lives of peers and young adults. After dealing with mental health struggles of his own, Beau not only looks to teach from experience, but also to continue learning how to process life’s challenges from others. At UVA, Beau took aim to break the stigma surrounding student-athlete mental health, working with several other founding members to build a space where peers could work together to process issues of their own.

As a READY coach, Beau approaches every situation objectively, withholds all judgment, and looks for commonalities to assist others in working towards solutions. Beau is an action-oriented person, and pushes himself and others to take steps as soon as they are ready to work towards building for a better future. He leads by example, and believes that the joy is in the journey, not the destination.

Harry Appelt

As a life coach and facilitator for READY, Harry is a personable and compassionate mentor who is driven to help his clients find clarity, direction, and peace in an age of ever-increasing chaos, distraction, and obscurity. With the social nuances of a technologically advanced world, it has become seemingly impossible for individuals of all ages to free themselves from the chains of self-doubt, fear of failure, and comparison with others. 

More than ever, people find themselves lost as they attach their personal identities to the finite goods that the world promises will bring joy, such as success, wealth, power, and fame. Understanding this common struggle to feel wholly fulfilled, Harry strives to help his clients discover a more fundamental sense of purpose that is not only applicable to the inevitable challenges of career or personal life but also that provides rich meaning to the heart and mind.

Hailing from New Canaan, Connecticut, where he was the CT Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2021, Harry has strong leadership experience in diverse environments. As a pre-med student-athlete at Williams College, where he is a double major in Biology and Mathematics, Harry aims to build community amongst his lacrosse teammates and peers. In his time as a volunteer for Harlem Lacrosse, a non-profit that enriches the lives of underprivileged youth, he has seen firsthand the power of being a part of something greater than oneself. 

In his second summer at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) as a Human Performance Research Specialist in the Office of Wellness and Resiliency, Harry currently facilitates the growth of The Resiliency Project, a multi-dimensional effort to optimize the biopsychological wellness of orthopedic surgeons at HSS. Curious to hear people’s stories and eager to serve, Harry is thrilled to facilitate unconditional and life-giving meaning in the lives of his clients.


Molly Keshin is a founding member and facilitator with READY. During her time at the University of Virginia, where she received a degree in Media Studies and played on the softball team all four years, Molly was on the executive council for a peer-to-peer group known as Student-Athlete Mentors. In her third and fourth year at UVA, the Student-Athlete Mentors (usually referred to as SAMs) began doing “campfire” conversations at meetings to help student-athletes try to more openly discuss their emotions in an environment where one is often expected to be “tough.” Having dealt with injuries, anxiety and performance struggles throughout her collegiate career, Molly’s passion for helping her fellow student-athletes became an inspiration to continue to help individuals that deal with the same issues. When READY came around, it was not only an opportunity to reconnect with some former UVA peers that had grown close, but also a way to pass on the valuable lessons learned during that time. 

After graduating from UVA in 2021, Molly received a Master’s degree in Journalism, specializing in Sports Media from Northwestern University in Chicago. From there, she worked in digital media, social media and public relations with the Chicago Blackhawks, NFL Films, and New York Mets, respectively. Molly is now a programming associate at The Athletic, a prominent sports journalism company. 

Molly prides herself in her empathy, which is the main tool she hopes to instill in others through READY. The ability to listen to others while they are speaking, validate their feelings and let them know they are not alone is her main goal while facilitating the program. Specifically, injury rehabilitation and performance anxiety are two areas where Molly is ready and willing to share her experiences to help others. 



Jack Pinho is Assistant Athletics Director for Student Athlete Support Services at Sacred Heart University (SHU). In this role, he provides academic support to student-athletes, including time management skills, organizational skills, study hall requirements, academic advising, class registration, and progress towards degree. Jack currently works directly with men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s track & field, women’s basketball, baseball, women’s lacrosse, men’s wrestling, and women’s wrestling as their direct academic liaison.

Jack leads all student-athlete development initiatives, which includes supervising the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), Every Heart is Sacred (SHU’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group) and SHU’s partnership with Team Impact. In addition to overseeing all community service initiatives, Jack serves as the primary contact to professors for all injured student-athletes and actively works with student-athletes and professors to create return to learn plans. 

Jack is a 2018 and 2020 graduate of Springfield College with a B.S. in Physical Education and Master of Education with a concentration in Athletic Administration. While earning a Master of Education degree in Athletic Administration at Springfield College, he served as a graduate assistant and extensively with both residence life and cross country and track programs.  Through his leadership and direction, the track program qualified for multiple NCAA regional and national competitions. He also served as Co-Chair of the Athletic Administration Leadership Committee.

During his time as an undergraduate student, Jack was recognized as a two-time NCAA Division III All-American and Academic All-American.  He also broke five men’s track and field program records during his career, and most recently, in February2023, he ran a 3:59 mile at the Boston University Valentine Invitational where he unofficially became the 711th American to ever dip under the infamous 4:00 minute mile barrier. 

Jack brings this excellence to the READY program, encouraging participants to set goals and articulate steps to achieving them. As a READY coach, Jack leads participants to fuel their vulnerability to drive change.  



Kiley Sturgeon is a dedicated, empathetic career counselor at Marquette University. Leveraging her innate strengths to help others develop, she creates a supportive and nurturing environment for the individuals she works with ensuring they feel heard, understood, and empowered as they navigate their future.  

She is certified in GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator), CCSP (Certified Career Services Provider), Strong Interest Inventory and Myers-Briggs. 

An alumna of the University of Virginia (UVA), Kiley received a Bachelor of Science in Education in Youth and Social Innovation as well as Media Studies while also playing for the UVA Volleyball team. She also has a background in coaching middle school and high school-aged volleyball teams and brings a wealth of knowledge in guiding and mentoring young adults.

Driven by her dedication to fostering meaningful relationships and helping students reach their full potential, Kiley embodies the philosophy that every individual has a unique journey. With her empathetic approach and commitment to personal growth, she empowers students to discover their passions, strengths, and values, guiding them towards fulfilling and meaningful paths. 

As a READY coach, Kiley believes the READY program provides an encouraging environment where students and young adults can safely embrace vulnerability and connect over shared experiences that often challenge us internally. By recognizing that many of our struggles are universal, it serves as a powerful antidote to feelings of isolation and self-doubt. She deeply appreciates how READY provides a space that fosters personal growth through mutual support and openness.


Carolyn is a READY facilitator and founding member. She takes pride in creating a space that fosters personal growth through mutual support, where participants can truly be their most authentic selves, recognize many shared struggles and remember we are not facing challenges alone.

She received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and a Masters of Science in Kinesiology for Individuals with Disabilities from the University of Virginia (UVA). At UVA, Carolyn played for the Field Hockey team and was a part of the only UVA field hockey team to win the ACC tournament. She also began her journey in becoming a mental and emotional health activist as a member of UVA’s Student-Athlete Mentors Program. She was awarded the UVA Susan Grossman Memorial Award, presented in recognition of outstanding service to student-athletes and contributions to the Student-Athlete Mentor Program. 

In the Fall, Carolyn will attend George Washington University in pursuit of a doctorate in Physical Therapy. Currently, she is a Physical Education elementary school teacher and has a background in coaching elementary, middle and high school aged field hockey teams as well as high school aged basketball teams. Through teaching and coaching, Carolyn is able to make individuals feel supported and heard and helps students navigate insecurities and fears about the future. Her passion is in allowing her students to discover their strengths and values as part of their journey.



Jennifer Wineholt is a coach and mentor who finds great passion in empowering young adults to find success in their lives. She has a degree in Foreign Affairs & Religious Studies from the University of Virginia and is a proud alum of the Virginia Volleyball team. Jennifer has taken her passion for sports to Nike, where she is currently a Global Strategic Business Manager. Her transition from being an athlete to serving athletes at Nike is reminiscent of her role within the Student-Athlete Mentor Program (SAM) at UVA, where she dedicated her time to champion mental health and facilitate authentic relationships within the student-athlete community. 


Jennifer believes that everyone can become more resilient and courageous when they are provided with a safe environment to share, listen, and grow. Through years of coaching volleyball and engagement in community groups, Jennifer sees mentorship and mental health advocacy as crucial pieces to ensuring that we are setting up our future generations for success. 


Jennifer often sees our youth facing unprecedented changes at a crucial time in their mental and cognitive development, and strongly believes READY can play a part in helping them face life’s upcoming challenges with strength, support, and confidence.