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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Leesa Brockman

ARPE department coordinator Leesa Brockman

You may know Leesa Brockman as the department coordinator in ARPE — and as the 2019 recipient of the Presidential Staff Excellence Award! But did you know she’s a farm-raised, Spock-admiring world traveler? Find out more about Leesa in this edition of 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Faculty and Staff!

1. Leesa is adopted 

She was adopted when she was 9 days old from a birthing home in Texas. While that fact was never hidden from her, it did make for some awkward moments. When she was 4 and just beginning to understand bartering, she told a man that she had already been purchased by her parents and could not be sold again! She’s taken DNA tests to learn about her ancestry and genetic makeup and is hoping to make a DNA connection with a possible second or third cousin.

2. Leesa partially grew up on a farm 

When Leesa was ages 6-10, her mother’s best friend had a working farm where she loved to spend all her time. There was a pig, chickens, ducks, geese, dogs, cats, mice, horses and one mean ole turkey! There was also a huge garden with pickling cucumbers, a peach tree, string beans, blackberries and root vegetables. Around this farm were other farms and on a Saturday, she would take her two dogs and head out across the cotton fields of Lubbock, Texas, to a watering hole used by all the nearby cows. There, dogs from all over would hang out with her in exchange for some scratches behind the ears and the pockets full of dog food. She had as many as 13 dogs coming around for the kibble!

3. Leesa is a classically trained ballerina 

She began ballet lessons when she was 4 and continues to do barre and pilates to keep in shape. She is also trained in tap dance, gymnastics, salsa, Mexican 2-step, modern dance and hip-hop. She has always had a passion for dance and, well, what little girl does not love the costumes? Her favorite ballet moment is that moment before the music begins knowing you have to step out on the stage. She says her insides are all tied up, but with the first note she begins to relax and allow the girl who has practiced day and night for 6 weeks be free.

4. Leesa is an avid photographer 

She got her first camera at the age of 9 and has enjoyed learning and growing as a digital artist. That was some 30-plus years ago and she never gave up hope that one day her photos would be shown in a gallery. Finally, in 2017, two of her photos were chosen to be shown at the Escondido Museum of Contemporary Art. She even got to take her father to see the exhibit! She has also had one of her photos appear in the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) monthly newsletter. Her next project is to bring photography to those who are blind by using a 3D printer to create a tactile version of her photos so that everyone can experience the beauty of photography.

5. Leesa met Spock 

Her passion for photography led her to meet the late Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek fame. Nimoy — who she looked up to as “the smartest alien in the universe” — was also a photographer and he was traveling the country doing public talks about his photography book. She said the chance to connect with him during the book signing was an unforgettable experience..

6. Leesa is completing a second master’s degree 

She credits the SDSU MA in Liberal Arts and Sciences (MALAS) program for giving her the unique experience of getting to know herself better. The program has taught her how to dig deeper within herself to be the best version of herself that she can be. With support from the MALAS program, she had the “life-changing” opportunity to travel to Cambodia and present at the IAGS conference on her thesis research.

7. Leesa has traveled to 16 countries and more than 100 major cities 

She took her first plane ride when she was 6 and she has not stopped traveling since. Her recent trip to Cambodia fired up the historian in her and she has already collaborated with fellow researchers from the conference to return next summer. One thing she loves to do when she travels is watch TV in other languages. She says Japanese TV has the most exciting programs. She also has the heart and soul of a historian and loves to immerse herself in the food, language, dance and culture of the area she is visiting. What is on her bucket list? Chernobyl, Antarctica and the Great Rift Valley.

How Leesa Brockman is making a difference in the College of Education 

“What I am most proud of is helping support our educational programs out in the Pacific. Both the BA program in the Republic of Palau and an MA program in American Samoa represent SDSU's core values of inclusion and the ideology that knowledge is opportunity. The other thing I am most proud of is being part of the COE team where everyone is working for the benefit of students while creating a positive atmosphere where students can thrive and succeed.”