Deciding to ask for help isn’t easy for anyone, but for Jessup alumna Leilua Linboe, asking for help wasn’t a choice, it was a necessity. Growing up in Washington, Leilua’s single-parent family lived on welfare. While her mom worked hard to provide for her family, it wasn’t enough to make ends meet. That’s when Leilua realized she needed to seek out help. God strategically placed people in her life who came alongside her, providing practical support and spiritual guidance. This support and guidance came in all forms – taking her to basketball practice, having her over for dinner, paying for her SAT test, helping her apply to college, and even helping her buy college supplies.
At a friend’s suggestion, she enrolled at Yakima Valley Community College in Washington and played on their basketball team for two years. Unsure where to go next, God met her again through a family who had helped take care of her in high school. They recently moved to Rocklin and suggested she send her basketball film to Jessup and live with them to save money. Jessup’s basketball coach welcomed her to the team and she played at Jessup for three years.
With money still tight, Leilua decided to join the National Guard. Working with Jessup and the Guard, she was able to go to basic training and continue attending college. “I was activated a couple of different times while going to school at Jessup. One was for the Oroville Dam and another for the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa in 2017,” said Leilua. Professor Scott Roberts was always supportive and very understanding. I couldn’t have graduated without his guidance and support.”
In 2018, Leilua graduated with a Kinesiology degree. Not only was she a first-generation college graduate, but she was also the only one of her siblings to graduate high school.
Leilua is now full-time active duty with the National Guard. While she’s not using her kinesiology degree in her current position, she’s still using skills she learned at Jessup. “I am working in retention. It’s a lot like a counselor. You have to listen to what the soldier might need and what they don’t like about the National Guard so that you can fix it or help get them somewhere they might be more comfortable,” said Leilua. “The care and support my teachers at Jessup showed me is how I try to be with the soldiers. I love to serve and help.”
Recently, Leilua was asked to be in a National Guard commercial. “It was all God again just opening doors,” said Leilua. “They needed someone who had been on a fire mission so I sent in pictures and a week later I was on a flight to LA along with 20 others from around the country. I think everyone was most excited and proud that it was actual soldiers in the commercial.” The commercial took two weeks to shoot. “They were long days and there was a lot of “hurry up and wait” but being in the military, you are used to it,” said Leilua. The highlight of this once-in-a-lifetime experience was the friendships she made during filming.
While Leilua’s journey had plenty of difficult twists and turns, God provided families, mentors, and experiences that shaped and molded her into the strong, positive, and influential person she is today.
Check out Leilua in the National Guard commercial here.