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From Application Process To Scholarships: Entrepreneur Helps Students Navigate A Path Forward

Jessica Jones-Gorman Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In 2019, Dr. Janet Leslie founded "The Gift of Experience" which provides educational consulting services. Dr. Leslie guides students through the college application process. She also uses her expertise to match students with potential scholarships.

Staten Island

When Dr. Janet Leslie was finishing her dissertation, she was overwhelmed with research and intimidated by the long and arduous process of compiling more than 100 pages of work. A first-generation college grad who earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Brooklyn College before obtaining a master's of science degree in higher education administration from Baruch College, Leslie hit a stumbling block when she was navigating the final piece of her education — a doctorate of management degree from the University of Maryland Global College.

"All along the way I had a myriad of mentors who helped, supported and advocated for me, but when I reached this point, I remember wishing for a network of wisdom — someone who could guide me in this final path of my journey," Leslie said.

So after three decades of working as a senior administrator for the City University of New York (CUNY), she decided to mentor non-traditional students and students of color who are working toward a higher education degree. THE PATH TO A DEGREE "Because of my own educational pursuits and professional experience, I became an expert at understanding the path to degree completion," said Leslie, who has worked as an adjunct assistant professor at Kingsborough Community College and has served as a coordinator with the CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies. "I personally identified the scholarships and skills needed to complete each of my three degrees at the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral levels. I wanted to pass that knowledge on to others who critically needed it."

In 2019, she founded The Gift of Experience, an LLC that provides educational consulting services for those pursuing collegiate and post-graduate degrees. Guiding students through the college application process, matching candidates with scholarships and providing tutoring and dissertation review, the service also specializes in career interpretation and transition — assisting aspiring entrepreneurs with business foundation and marketing.

"I believe that a postgraduate degree can be one of a series of important steps toward a person's ultimate life goals, and as a businesswoman, I understand the need to invest in individuals who can serve as effective leaders within private and public spaces," Leslie said. "The Gift of Experience is all about turning passion into profession and projects into profit." Born and raised in Brooklyn, the daughter of two hard-working Caribbean immigrants who believed their children should have every educational advantage available, Leslie took the bus from Ocean Hill Brownsville to Marine Park every day to attend school when she was a child. "This was the early to mid 1960s, and there were only three children in the entire school who looked like me," Leslie said. "But my parents wanted the best for us. They put us on a path that helped us move forward academically, and they advocated for us every step of the way."

A MAJOR INSPIRATION Her father, a real estate agent who built his business from the ground up, eventually owning seven houses, Leslie said both of her parents served as a major inspiration in her own entrepreneurial pursuits.

"Now in the rearview mirror I can see why they felt so empowered to push us forward, even though it was a very daunting task," Leslie said. "They were navigating so many social constraints, but they maintained a powerful presence the entire time."

A West Brighton resident for more than two decades, Leslie is the mother of twin sons, now grown and building careers and families of their own. Inspired by their educational pursuits and her own journey, she defined her current motivation as "helping learners at every stage of the continuum."

"That's what drives my business," she said.

Offering five structured consulting packages, Leslie's services range from general advisement to more detailed mentorship and academic support. Recently certified as a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE), Leslie also works with other qualifying applicants to streamline official certification.

"A newly minted portion of The Gift of Experience helps other M/WBE businesses learn to navigate the RFP [Request for Proposals] system and become a competitor for New York City and New York State contracts," Leslie said.

GAINING CONFIDENCE And Leslie's services have already proven successful for a number of students.

"Dr. Leslie helped me to narrow down my career focus by teaching me how to think with my end goal in mind," noted Bree Davis, a recent mentee. "By changing my thought pattern, I was confident enough to shift career paths and apply to a graduate certificate program." Stacey Payton, a graduate mentee who Leslie assisted in obtaining a diversity scholarship, said she agrees.

"Her advice, encouragement and willingness to listen and offer support are among the many attributes she so easily provides to her students," Payton said. "She gives herself unconditionally and makes it her business to understand that each of our individual needs are being met accordingly." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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