Leanne  Steinberg

Hometown: Holyoke, MA

Major: Liberal Arts

My application to law school three years ago, felt surreal given my background. I was removed from public school after seventh grade. I got my G.E.D. at seventeen years old. I always thought of myself as a bright person, but without a degree I knew it would be hard to ever gave a satisfying career or even a job that supported myself and my daughter. By the time I was thirty I was unemployed and a struggling single mother. My life changed in a flash, though.

In 2000 my brother, who had originally only completed the fourth grade, started at Holyoke Community College. He told me all the exciting things he was learning, but I ignored him. Finally, in May of 2004 I was sitting in the Fleet Center at his commencement ceremony from Northeastern University. As my brother crossed the stage to graduate, I was holding my eighteen-month old daughter on my lap. As she started to fuss, I bounced her in my lap, I looked down at her and tears filled my eyes. I looked down at myself. Who was I? I was a thirty-one year old single mom with a seventh grade education who lived with her parents and struggled to find a job. My big dreams were gone but she had not even formed hers yet, and I had some for her. I could envision in my daydreams a little girl who was to grow into a bright woman who could do anything she put her mind to accomplishing. Was I seeing her or myself? I guess I am still not sure, because I think my daydreams were really my own way of encouraging myself to see myself as better than I felt at those moments. One thing I felt in those moments was that I was not setting a good example for my daughter, as a woman, a mother, or as a person. How could I tell her the importance of graduating high school and going to college if I never went? How could I be a model of a productive citizen in society if I really was not? I also realized I could no longer blame my situation entirely on everyone else, I needed to find a way to improve our lives.

Change did not happen overnight, but it did happen. As the summer went on, I wondered if I had what it took to go to Holyoke Community College (HCC). I was not sure they would let me in considering my lack of education. One day in September I went on-line to their website, I panicked. It was the last day to register for Fall classes. It suddenly felt like now or never, do or die. When I got to HCC there was only two hours left to register. I sat down with a kind counselor and told her I needed to sign up for four classes. She tried to slow me down and after listening to my story of how I got there, she strongly urged me to take only two classes, three if I really felt up for a challenge. I insisted on taking four classes. I earned a 4.0 that semester.

I have since earned my Associates Degree with honors as a member of Phi Theta Kappa at HCC. While at HCC I served my community as the student member of the Board of Trustees, a student elected and Governor appointed, position for one and a half years. I received several awards and scholarships for my participation within the HCC community. After graduating from HCC, I transferred to Mount Holyoke College (MHC) as a Francis Perkins Scholar. Francis Perkins Scholars are non-traditional students whose academic achievements merit transfer of credits from a qualifying institution like HCC to MHC in order to complete a Bachelors Degree.

On May 21, 2011 I graduated from Western New England College School of Law with my Juris Doctor. It has been a long hard road, but one that was not insurmountable. I am proud of who I am and where I have been. HCC was integral in helping start this long journey and providing me the support to start off on the right foot. I am indebted to the help and support I received there.

Thank you,
Leanne Steinberg


Holyoke Community College
303 Homestead Ave. Holyoke, MA 01040