Kristine Leaños

Kristine Leaños.

President's Scholar

Business Administration/Human Resource
Lucas College and Graduate School of Business

Why did you choose your major?

I chose my major because I wanted to make in impact. When I was a supervisor, I noticed there was a disconnect between the frontline employees (who were the face of the company) and senior management. I wanted to be a liaison between the two groups to improve communication, foster trust, and create strong ties in order to meet the organization’s strategic goals. The result would be a robust, successful company with happy, engaged employees. I realized as a Human Resources professional, I could make the difference in people’s lives while helping a company be profitable, so I enrolled in an HR Business Management Program.

What does receiving this particular award mean to you?

I am still grappling at the idea of being recognized as a President’s Scholar because my story is not traditional and it took me awhile to get here. I was a young mother and had to defer college to provide a living for my daughter. Through the years I also cared for my grandma who had dementia and my husband who had kidney failure, so I had little time for anything else. Then after my daughter got married and my husband received a kidney transplant, I decided it was time to fulfill my dream of getting a degree. At 37 years old I enrolled at Mission College and two years later, I started San Jose State in the Fall of 2017. It seems bittersweet as I am finishing up my last semester here. I waited a long time for this, but to be acknowledged for all my hard work, after everything I overcame, is amazing.

Who has had the greatest influence or impact on your life? In addition, tell us about a SJSU faculty member who contributed to your academic success.

There are so many people who have influenced and impacted my life. I would like to take a moment to recognize some people who made me who I am and helped me get to where I am today: my husband, who supported me and encouraged me to follow my dream of getting my degree;  my grandma, who thought I could do anything and made me believe it too; my daughter, who gave me the drive to be successful; and all of my friends and family, who were my cheerleaders through this journey.

Additionally, I would like to recognize some SJSU faculty members who have contributed to my academic success and piqued my curiosity/interest through their experiences in human resources: Professor Tim Brown, who made me fall in love with Compensation; Professor Rick Partridge, whose genuine enthusiasm for the success of his students is evident and makes me want to give back after I achieve my goals; Professor Monica Gavino, who encourages students to believe in their capabilities and extends her knowledge to help them be successful; and Professor Nancy Da Silva, whose passion for data is contagious.

Lastly, to a stranger I met once who told me he was in school and when I asked what is he going to school for (considering he was much older than I was) he replied, “because one should never stop learning.”

Describe an experience that has shaped who you are today.

I am the person I am today for all the reasons I mentioned before and because of the people who consistently challenge me to be the best version of myself. My life experiences have led me to appreciate that life is too short not to be doing what you love. My husband always reminds me that if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. My goal is to not work a day in my life and this degree will allow me to do just that.

What would you say to other students to encourage or inspire them to attain academic excellence?

I notice that most students are just trying to rush through school, get their degree, and land a job. I would tell them to slow down and enjoy the process. Engage in your classes and try to find something to take away from every experience. Participate in the dialogue, question what you do not understand, and find a way to correlate what you are learning about to real world situations. When you do this, you aren’t just taking a class, you are learning and growing. You are capable of greatness and shouldn’t settle for anything less. 

What makes you a Spartan?

I am a Spartan because I am determined to be better than I was yesterday; I am a Spartan because I am resilient and will not be defined by the status quo; and I am a Spartan because I believe education can empower one to change the world. 

Nominated by Aaron Lington

Professor Nancy Da Silva, Management

"Kristine Leanos is currently in my Bus 152, HR Analytics class.  She is a great student.  She asks excellent questions connecting what she is learning in my class with her other HR classes.  I often have challenge questions in my class activities and she never shies away from trying them."