Bouncing back from illness to success

Leah Otieno has had a rough road the last 2 years. As an international student, she learned a new education system and culture in Iowa and then she was diagnosed with Leukemia in summer 2013 and took the fall semester off to focus on getting healthy. Delightedly, she tells me that she is now happy and healthy.

Coming back from a serious illness and a semester off of classes can be difficult, but Leah jumped back in full-force. In May Term 2014, Leah took the Corporate Networking course with Professor Marilyn Mueller where she learned more about the diverse businesses in central Iowa and met numerous professionals excited to help her grow. Professor Mueller and a fellow student, Ryan Rohlf (PR, ’14), encouraged Leah to take this education another step through the Leadership Iowa University program. Professor Mueller explained her interest in nominating Leah, “During my May Term course, Leah proved herself to be poised and articulate and I knew she would represent Simpson well. We’ve had great students participate in the past and it can make a big difference in their careers. Leah was a great candidate for the program.”

Leah explained the program from start to finish: the daily schedule of activities featured travel around central Iowa visiting businesses in different sectors including manufacturing, insurance, financial services, non-profits, agriculture and more. Throughout the weeklong program, Leah was networking with business leaders. “We learned about others’ career paths and how it can take you different places. We learned about different employers that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about or considered before”
“After my May Term course and LIU, I have a growing appreciation for Des Moines and Iowa. I will try to stay in Iowa for graduate school after I finish at Simpson”

Leah’s time in Leadership Iowa University did not end with the weeklong program. She will have a couple of mentors she will work with this year and there is a spring session where the group will build on their experiences.

At Fall Convocation 2014, Teacher of the Year Jackie Brittingham advised students to be weasels. Not our normal perception of weasels though, but as the type of animal that grabs on to what it wants and doesn’t let go. Leah is a weasel in the best sense of the word. She has her sights set on big things helping her home country through finance and economics and she’s not letting go anytime soon.

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