Hi. I'm Lessie, but everyone calls me Les. I am returning to school to further my education at the age of 52. I am majoring in Advertising and Marketing Communications while minoring in Business. In possession of an Associate's of Science in Management from Leeward Community College - I wish to continue this journey.
This is not an easy thing for me to do - to post about my life and my needs. I tend to be more private, independent, strong-willed, and confident - yet here I am telling the internet my personal needs, leaning on friends, indecisive, and lacking even the smallest shred of belief for a fruitful future.
I have the best wishes and love of the people around me and I do not expect them to give me more financially. One of them suggested I do a fundraiser. After all, part and parcel of my career is the art of persuading others based on the information I provide. Isn't that the essence of what communication is? The sharing of ideas, passions, dreams, and information. If I cannot "sell" myself, how would I expect to "sell" for a business or non-profit?
Casting aside my pride, here I am. Asking the world (or at least the visitors to this page) for a wee bit of charity so I may pursue a deeper understanding and control of my ability to inspire others to action.
A bit of background...
I am the eldest of 5 (plus 2 step-siblings), born and raised in a little pineapple town called Wahiawa in Hawaii. Because of our large family, I never thought I would go to college. I adopted a "can-do" attitude and like the proverbial bull in a china shop, barged my way headlong into adulthood without a real plan. I floundered in the military, as a secretary, as a salesperson, and more.
In 1992, with a push from my Uncle, I learned how to scan an image and run text into a template on a Mac. I was fascinated and hooked. I quickly fell into a profession that allowed my creativity to flow by becoming a self-taught Graphic Designer.
I found myself on a fulfilling yet challenging path. I took positions for much lower pay than the norm, simply for the experience. I would sometimes do work for free to fill my portfolio. I followed industry professionals before it was cool. I read magazines, dissected layouts, and analyzed advertisements. My favorite road-trip game was "name that font" on billboards. I saw the internet blowing up, and taught myself to code websites. I learned how to manage servers and databases. I became comfortable with Macs, PeeCees, and Linux computing.
Fast forward to 2003 when I thought I landed my "job-for-life" as the Marketing Director for a prominent company in Hawaii. I quickly learned there is more to that title than leading a department in creating catalogs and flyers. I struggled for every success I gained. It came to an abrupt end after a corporate merger; I was lied to, deceived, and ultimately made a fool right before being laid off.
It took several years for me to recuperate and come to terms with my shortcomings. With the support of loved ones, I made the first serious step with my career by attending Leeward Community College in Hawaii. Grants and scholarships paid for almost everything while I worked in retail to pick up the slack. In 2018, right after I turned 50, I proudly held an AS in Management with Honors - something I never dreamed I would achieve.
I was offered a scholarship to further my studies but decided to find work instead. I found my newly acquired degree was shadowed by my past experiences, and employers still would not extend an offer of employment. I was told that I had too much experience for a "lower grade" position, yet not enough of an education to justify management or even supervisory positions. Apparently, an AS with honors isn't quite acceptable due to all of my past work experience.
I was told, "It just isn't enough."
I became angry in my frustration. Part of me wondered if it is really the lack of "pedigree", or if it is my sex that limits me? I know that female leadership is woefully under-represented in the business world. The few female leaders I know personally in Honolulu struggle to be taken seriously. It all came to a head when a company offered, then retracted, a junior executive position. Their reason? They thought I had a higher-level degree due to how I presented and carried myself. The AS just wasn't enough for them, and I was told: ".... go get a higher degree then we will hire you...".
All they want is a pedigree?
This experience served as a catalyst and is the main reason I left my home state. I have returned to the East Coast where I know there are better opportunities. Prepared to fight the stigmas of my generation, age, sex, and life choices, I am fully and completely focused on earning that higher degree, but for a purpose more than just getting a job.
On becoming a Leader in Publishing and Communications.
Publishing is more than creating magazines or books. Communication is more than sharing ideas and products. Both can be construed as being part of Advertising and Marketing, and yet all of these spread into many different industries. From safety to hospitality, broadcast news to public events, print media to digital media, academia to gaming. Where does a person put themselves? Where does one choose to lead?
Or rather, do I need to choose just one area?
To help answer those questions, I have applied and been accepted by Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, an institution for women to study and earn their degrees. With a co-ed graduate program, I can work toward an MBA while living on their beautiful campus. Not only will I gain more understanding of my profession, but I will also build a network of similarly minded women. I will learn more about women's rights along with the challenges all women face - and will hopefully overcome. I will search for ways to equalize the power and wage gaps in the printing, publishing, digital, and gaming industries. I will attain a sharper focus while I find comfort in Georgia living.
After Wesleyan, I plan to stay in Georgia and situate myself between Atlanta and Savannah. I will return to doing what I love best - communicating my passions. However, I need to get to that point first - and that is why I am writing all this here.
This GoFundMe is to help raise the funds I need for two major purchases:
1 - A MacBook Pro
-- My academic advisor suggests I get the 16" MacBook Pro as Mac with Adobe software is the industry standard
-- Quoted by Apple, a refurbed MacBook Pro 13" with the specs I need is approximately $1624 (price subject to change as we get closer to the fall)
-- I will also have to subscribe to Adobe for the software, an additional monthly cost which I will mitigate with part-time employment
2 - A reliable vehicle that will get me to Georgia and serve as my main mode of transportation for the next 4 to 5 years (which means it must last).
-- After the MacBook, all other monies will go toward the purchase of a reliable and economical vehicle, and the cost of insurance for one year
-- As I plan to work while attending school, I will be able to cover gas, maintenance, and other fees
-- I am not sure what I will get as it depends on how much money I have to get it. Rest assured, it will be economical, practical, and able to shove all my belongings into.
I need to have funds together by July 15, 2020. On that date, I will start buying the things I need. A MacBook and a vehicle are the two largest purchases I will have to make. Smaller things are on a special Amazon List that I slowly purchase from as I can.
A History of Excellence and Leadership
I graduated from high school in 1986 (right). I was a JROTC Cadet Captain leading 30 other female students toward success. Together, we earned Honor Unit with Distinction as every member of my company maintained an average grade of C (meaning everyone passed their all classes). I also contributed to our Rifle Team's championship streak for 3 years. I was awarded by the Veterans of Foreign Wars for excellence in leadership, my proudest high school achievement.
In 2018, I graduated with honors from Leeward Community College (left), having served as the Business Club and Phi Beta Lambda chapter President, plus earning my place in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.
It is my plan to continue on this track of leadership and excellence, not only for myself, but for Wesleyan College, my fellow students, and all women whose careers are in the Publishing and Marketing industries.
Your added help will make this happen!
With grants, scholarships, student loans, work-study and most likely a slew of part-time positions to cover living expenses, enrolling at Wesleyan College is the biggest decision I've made in my life without any outside influence. I just have to get there. My classes are registered for, books are on order, dorm reservations turned in, my "back to school" list on Amazon is growing. I just need to get there!
I am doing everything in my power to make sure I reach my goal. Right now I am working part-time as a cashier in a grocery store. I was hoping to have a second part-time position by now to generate more funds but the current pandemic has put a stop to that. What I am earning at this time is just barely enough to survive and pay what little bills I have. It is especially challenging now that my schedule is being whittled down on a day-to-day basis. So far, my hours have been slashed from 30/week to barely 20/week (if I'm lucky). I realize everyone is being challenged due to COVID-19, but we cannot let this stop the future. That is why I am putting aside my personal fears and desire for privacy by creating this campaign.
I only have a few months to get the funds together for school supplies, necessities, and food plus the two major purchases of a MacBook and a reliable vehicle.
With your contributions...
You will help me get to Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, for the Fall-2020 semester. You will help me return to my passion as a graphic designer by providing the singular most important tool of the industry - a Mac. You will also help me overcome the boundaries many women face on their journeys to becoming leaders in business. You are invited to watch as I tackle issues head-on, and learn to deal with them in a more professional manner than I have in the past. I am polishing my old blog and will be chronicling this journey so other women, young and old, may become inspired and take that leap to pursue their dreams. I hope they will learn from my mistakes and share in my triumphs. It is just part of how I will share with everyone who helps me in this venture.
Any amount toward my goal of $3,000 will be deeply appreciated. I cannot thank you enough right now for reading this and to consider a contribution. What I can do, is be more open and honest about the challenges I face - and how I deal with them. I can spread my wisdom, and share my aloha with everyone who cares to listen, read, or watch ...
... and you will help make it happen.
Thank you. Malama pono.
Life does not spiral downward after 50 - it simply begins to make more sense.