LSHS alumni is honored with Bronze StarHopes students will take opportunities to learn about the world
Leslie, a 1993 Lake Stevens High School graduate, learned much about different cultures through opportunities he had while growing up right here in Lake Stevens. Getting to know exchange students from other countries gave him experiences he cherishes today.
“We had foreign exchange students and I got to be friends with them,” Leslie recalls. “Students now can take a chance and go to another country and learn another language, not only will it be a huge personal benefit but it is good for the country as a whole. It never hurts to have an insight into someone else’s views.”
After graduating high school, Leslie attended Everett Community College, Central Washington University and then graduate school in Monterey, Calif.
While attending grad school, Leslie, like the rest of the country, had a life changing experience on September 11, 2001.
“When Sept. 11 happened I was in my last year of grad school,” he said. “It really woke me up to world events and how it affects not only the world stage but us at home as well. I was conflicted at the time whether to finish my degree or start (serving in the Army).”
Leslie decided to continue with graduate school and received his Masters Degree in Spanish/English translation, after which he decided to join the Army.
“I knew I wanted to do some sort of government service and the army would need people with my type of skills,” Leslie said. “I learned military intelligence. It was part of that.”
When it comes to his Bronze Star, he is honored but acknowledges that it is about the work and the people, not the awards.
“You always wonder if you’re deserving of it, maybe you don’t always see the end result of what you do,” he said. “For most people who serve, it’s not about the recognition or awards, we would still do the job regardless.”
The future of our country lies in the hands of the young and Leslie sees many opportunities to become involved in community, country and world affairs. He sees diplomacy as a stepping stone to overcoming perceptions that international communities have about Americans.
“The way the economy is and the way that globalization is interconnected, it is more important now for Americans to know more about the world, to have an interest in other cultures and also have an interest in serving our own country. That doesn’t necessarily mean the military.”
Police, firemen, EMTs and diplomats are all included in his views of service for our country.
“I think exploring something to do with national service or the military or law enforcement is important, it is an interesting time to get into those areasincluding diplomacy,” he said. “We have been at war for so many years we are going to have to build those bridges back. It is extremely critical. Language skills, degrees in international studies or cultural studies are going to be an asset to any young person who has an interest.”
Leslie has retired from the Army, is now working for a private communications company and will be returning to the Middle East. He continues to enjoy learning about other cultures and encourages youth to do the same.
“I think that young people need to be interested in world events and how they fit into the world. International borders are shrinking and globalization has touched every part of business; finance, trade and pretty much any other type of human relation.”