Leesa Greenwood was born and raised in Harvey, Illinois. Although she was born into a family full of love, she was surrounded by drugs and poverty in the home. Her family lived off a nominal income which was disproportionally dispensed between the needs of the home and her parents’ drug use. Although times were rough, Leesa discovered the true meaning behind the saying “Things could be worse.” In 2007, when Leesa was nine years old, her mother passed away from lung cancer. At an early age, Leesa took on the role of woman of the house; taking care of her sister and father, and learning the ropes of becoming a woman on her own. Though the adversity, Leesa continued overcoming every obstacle thrown at her in life.
Growing up, Leesa was never a normal child. She stood out in academics by being top her class and graduating Valedictorian in her eighth grade class. Although she was known as being an advanced student, her passion for basketball gave her the chance to be an “average kid” amongst her peers. Leesa did not have a strong relationship with her father until after her mother died. Basketball was the glue that kept their bond so close because it was something that they could both relate to. When her father died, basketball became a symbol for their love and a way for her to continue her father’s life and legacy.
Family has always been Leesa’s main motivation. Growing up around gang violence, drugs, and knowing that life could be taken away at any moment, she has consistently maintained a 4.0+ grade point average. Leesa knows education is her family’s “ticket out”. After the death of her father, she had to move to Florida. Leesa instantly formed an unbreakable bond with her nephew. When faced with the decision of moving to Spokane, Washington with her nephew and family or staying in Florida alone to finish high school, she decided to stay. Leesa knew that staying at Fort Walton Beach High School would provide her the best opportunity to get accepted into a prominent university which would allow her to continue her education and support her family in the future. Luckily for Leesa, she continued to have the support of her siblings and nephew despite living thousands of miles apart from each other. Although it was a difficult choice, Leesa was accepted to Notre Dame, which proved it was the right decision.
The words giving, determined, courageous, and unique would define Leesa Greenwood. Leesa tries to live life like a regular teen; being involved in sports, participating in clubs, and always doing community service. In her future, Leesa looks forward to beginning her studies in Civil Engineering while being an active student on campus. She loves giving back to the community and making a difference in other people’s lives. The dream of becoming successful in the engineering field will allow her to take care of her family while continuing to make a difference in the world.