Leslie was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador and lived the first six years of her life there with her mother, grandmother, and other extended family of forty. She lived in a small house with fifteen other people, sometimes without food, relying on the generosity of neighbors. She does not know her father, but the women in her life have been strong, just like this petite university attending young woman. At the age of six, with the help of a benefactor, Leslie moved from Ecuador to the Los Angeles area with her mother for a better life. When it was time for high school her mother moved her from the security of friends and family to Granada Hills, so she could go to Granada Hills Charter High School. This proud, strong, hardworking woman knew that only with a strong educational foundation would life be different for her only child.

Leslie is in her sophomore year, fall 2014 at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo majoring in Geography/Anthropology. This is her dream school, with its closeness to nature and strong academics. She has embraced college life with enthusiasm and success. Her desire to be close to nature has been fulfilled, as she takes long hikes to the volcanic peaks of the Santa Lucia Range and back down to the Pacific Ocean. She has made many friends in her dorm and her roommate has become a life-long friend. This “city girl” even spent Spring Break camping. Leslie loves her classes and is exploring job opportunities within her major.

She has worked hard in school and helps financially with family expenses, working now in the summer to help her mother with rent and money to go to Ecuador to assist family. She understands the sacrifices her mother has made and the opportunity college offers “to improve myself and my family and show the world that a young Latino who came from no money, no background education, and no father can change the world by inspiring others that they could do the same…”.

Leslie has equated the role of geese, as they fly, with L.I.F.T. A goose who “falls out of formation, suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back in formation to take advantage of the lifting power from the bird in front… L.I.F.T. encourages the person to fulfill their dreams in hopes of a better life even when it means being honked at by the geese behind in order to keep up… with your goal.” Leslie is ready to soar.