Compassion comes easy to Rose State College student  

Brittany Graham

Student Reporter — Raider

For some people, spending 12 hours on a Boeing 707 aircraft isn’t an ideal classroom

environment, but for RSC student Ellisa Lee, it was a perfect learning space.

Originally from Sacramento, California, Lee found herself in a rut following high school.

“I was really, really broke,” Lee said with a laugh. “I went to school for about two years for graphic design when I ran out of money and realized I also really, really hate graphic design.”

So she did what any penniless college student would do; she joined the Air Force.

While in the military, she served as an Airborne Surveillance Technician aboard the E-3

Sentry, commonly known as the AWACS, airborne warning and control systems, and was stationed out of Tinker Air Force Base. Three years into her career, she was promoted to Instructor AST, something she described as the “highlight” of her career.

“When I was moved to the schoolhouse to work on people’s flight and simulator training, it

really gave me a chance to pay it forward,” Lee said. “I liked knowing that I was helping prepare

these airmen become an asset to their squadrons and preparing them to deploy.”

It was this idea that inspired Lee’s civilian career choice.

Lee transitioned from active duty to being an Air Force Reserve member and began at RSC as a

nursing major with a planned emphasis in pediatrics. At that time she also began volunteering

with adolescents in a mental health facility. Unfortunately, two things became apparent for her: a fear of needles and a desire to be more hands-on to impact people.

“Gosh, I hated needles, but I really wanted to help them. I loved listening to their stories in group sessions and learning about what they’d been through,” she said. Lee began looking into social work.

Now pursuing an ultimate goal of a master’s degree in social work, Lee finds herself

working at Build-A-Bear Workshop. This may seem uncommon, a trained military member

making stuffed animals in her spare time, but to Lee, it makes perfect sense.

“It lets me still work with kids, helping them with their social skills, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’” she said.

Though Lee loves working with children, she said she thinks worst part of her anticipated career field will be “the parents.”

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