Student stays focused despite multiple challenges
Melany Velasco • Staff Reporter
Laneeka Hall would not give up on school or her life outside of school.
Hall will be graduating from Highline this spring with a bachelor of applied science degree in Youth Development.
She is the mother of four girls. Being a mother didn’t stop Hall from wanting to enroll at Highline in 2015. Her inspiration to work with kids started off when she took a human relations class, and from observing young people who came into the Starbucks where she worked.
“I have four daughters. My oldest is 15, second youngest is 11, third youngest is 8, and my youngest is 4. I love them all so much. They are really just lovely human beings that inspire me,” Hall said.
“I love working with kids, it started off when I was working in Starbucks, and in Professor [Kenneth]Pimpleton’s class. I was just drawn towards kids,” she said.
Hall started off her education at Edmonds Community College before she and her fiancé chose to move. From there she started a search for colleges near the area that offered the career she was looking for.
“I saw that Highline was a lot closer and before I knew it, it became my home away from home,” she said.
“I wanted to come back to college, because after being a barista at Starbucks I realized I wanted to help people beyond just serving them coffee and making them smile,” Hall said.
“When I visited the Highline campus, I knew I wanted to go here, because at Highline, you are instantly welcomed,” she said. “It’s a beautiful campus, very diverse and you can easily feel like you belong.”
At Highline she met Dan Drischel and learned about the bachelor of applied science program in Youth Development. That put her on the track that she is continuing today.
As a parent, coworker, student, and still managing time for herself, Hall has to manage her time carefully.
“I am super passionate about doing more, not just what they expect us to do,” she said. “I wasn’t going to limit myself from achieving my goals.”
“As a mother I make time for my girls, and as a student I make time for my studies as well,” Hall said. “Same thing when it comes to work.”
Hall’s professors say she is an exemplary student.
“She stands out for her enthusiasm, her kindness, her hard work, and her commitment to doing the right thing. Laneeka is quite simply a lovely human being. She is a mom and is dedicated to her kids,” said Fred Capestany an instructor in the Human Services department.
“Laneeka is a dedicated, conscientious student, she is always positive in her attitude and eager to help,” Capestany said. “When I ask Laneeka to help me with something she usually responds with an enthusiastic yes.”
Hall is working as an academic adviser for Achieve, a program that helps students with various challenges. She said she plans to continue working while continuing her education.
“I love Achieve, all students, and being at Highline College. My next goal is to pursue my master’s, I hope in the science of learning or sociology or education.”
Ultimately, Hall said, she wants to be able to help more students learn.
“I want to be able to research and find ways to continuously improve our learning systems so everyone, youth, kids can feel empowered by knowledge, learning, and their belief in themselves,” she said.
“How this connects to how we learn, our understanding of knowledge, learning, and what different factors contribute to our self-growth,” she said. “I am very passionate about the growth mindset. I am just fascinated with the question of how we can continue to improve our education systems, society, and improve how youth and kids learn so everyone can realize that, as Jim Kwik says, ‘`that we are unlimited.’”
Hall said she values the many connections she has made at Highline.
“I’ve taken away so many nuggets,” she said. “I may be graduating but we are still students in life, we never really stop learning. We are always going to be students in life. Children are our teachers. We get all these meaningful connections.”
“I am so excited about being part of this journey,” she said.
Hall said her favorite thing about Highline is the community and how everyone here plays an inspiring role in her life.
“My favorite thing about Highline is the community itself, everyone plays a role in inspiring others, coaching each other, and learning from one another,” she said. “Everyone here has a story to tell, not just educational. And that’s important to me, because we are learning about life.”
Hall said that others can do what she has done.
“Advice I would give to anyone in college is to just enjoy it, work on connecting with someone, work on yourself,” she said. “Become your own version of a leader.”