Gita DeLeon is looking forward to an amazing year in 2016, following her graduation this December from LER.
Her journey in the US began in 2002, when her family moved here from Lithuania. She started her sophomore year of high school in the United States, not knowing a word of English, and learned to speak English by taking a French class. Fluent in French, Gita translated the words back to English. She worked to overcome those challenges, and received a scholarship to attend Illinois Wesleyan University. She came to Illinois for law school following a year as a paralegal for a criminal defense attorney in Boston. Thinking of becoming a litigator, she met an unwelcoming job market with an uncertain visa status, and began work for the College of Law.
While there, she met Professor Matthew Finkin, who talked about how her skills and interests would be a perfect fit for the program at LER, so she began networking with others. Combining this knowledge with conversations with her mother-in-law, a former IBM HR executive, she realized that the field was a perfect fit for her, and LER was the place to start her career.
“My favorite professors have been LeRoy, Harris, and Kramer during my time at LER,” Gita says. “Coming from a legal background, the connection to employment law through Professor LeRoy has been great. It has filled an important gap. Professor Harris gave me a leg to stand on in the workplace with his Firm Performance class. Professor Kramer’s Diversity class has been essential as well. He always has interesting readings that connect concrete data to the stories you hear about diversity issues in the workplace. I finally have the ‘WHY’ to show that diversity isn’t just a buzz word – it’s essential to a successful workplace.”
Last summer, Gita interned with GE Aviation in Cincinnati, OH. Her “buddy” in the LER program, Lauren O’Keefe, MHRIR ‘14, and several alumni, including fellow IWU and LER alum JR Glenn, MHRIR ’07, and Emily Marshall, MHRIR ‘12, provided great information that solidified her decision to become a GE intern. She loved her summer, saying that it started well, with her manager and assignment leader showing her their goals and how her projects for the summer aligned with those goals. She had a meaningful role that allowed her exposure to the VP’s of Finance and Human Resources over the course of her summer.
“Ernest Marshall, the VP of HR in Aviation, is involved in a leadership role with a prison in that area, and took a busload of us to visit a recovery program and its participants during the course of my summer,” she recalls. “What an incredible opportunity to be reminded of how to interact with people who are in a very different situation than I am, and to think about how I speak to everyone, regardless of their station in life. It was a defining moment for me.”
The summer was so wonderful that she has agreed to return as a member of GE’s HRLP, which was a draw to her from the moment she accepted the internship. She is looking forward to starting her full time role with GE in 2016, but not until after the birth of her first child, who she and her husband, Max, will welcome in January
“The decision to come to LER is the best educational decision I’ve made,” Gita says. “The best part of the experience has been the recruiting opportunity. It’s such a well-oiled machine, providing each of us the appropriate level of support and connection, regardless of our range of experience and background. My career is going to be fantastic, and that is largely because of the connections I have made through the process at LER. I am so grateful and proud to be part of this legacy!”
We congratulate Gita on a job well-done, a promising career, and a sweet new daughter! Best of luck to her, and to all of our December graduates.