As a young adult, Leann struggled with substance use and mental health challenges. She pursued community college at several colleges throughout California and eventually transferred and graduated from San Francisco State University where she obtained a degree in Child and Adolescent Development with a concentration in Youth and Family Services. During this journey, Leann became a motivational speaker for a program called SOLVE (Sharing Our Lives, Voices and Experiences) a mental health support and anti-stigma program. She also served as a coordinator for the Speaker’s Bureau, where she facilitated trainings for police officers on crisis intervention.
Despite the success in her professional life, other difficulties caused Leann to become homeless and incarcerated. During her incarceration, Leann enrolled in our Continuing Education courses offered at the Central Women’s Jail through Santiago Canyon College’s Inmate Education Program. This connected Leann with the Project RISE team during one of Project RISE’s outreach class presentations by Counselor Anacany Torres. Project RISE has since assisted Leann with her post-release journey through enrollment and persistence in our noncredit programs to re-build and reinforce her already-existing skills.
Additionally, Project RISE has connected her with the resources in Project RISE’s community partner bank to meet her basic needs. During the summer of 2020 Leann successfully completed three Career Education courses – Microsoft Outlook, Word Processing and Microsoft Databases. Leann is now close to completing the Career Education Certificate as an Administrative Assistant at SCC. Motivated to achieve more, and with the encouragement of Project RISE Counselor Anacany, Leann applied to and was admitted to Columbia University’s program in Leadership and Entrepreneurship through their Center for Justice.
Leann’s next goal is to learn about coding and reach the community and achieve policy change through technology. Leann inspires us to learn valuable lessons on persistence and perseverance while having the courage to seek new opportunities to better our lives. We are proud that Santiago Canyon College has been a vehicle in Leann’s journey, we are proud of her accomplishments and look forward to witnessing many more of Leann’s successes at Santiago Canyon College.
In April of 2021, Leann was awarded a Certificate of Recognition by Rancho Santiago Community College District Board of Trustees for her persistence, resiliency and commitment to her education.