From Fiji islands to the Wild Horse Desert, Leslie Currie ramps up development for college
When you think of joining the Peace Corps, you might imagine dropping everything you grew up knowing to adopt the lifestyle and customs of a new culture. That might not seem ideal, but that is what Leslie Currie did. She joined the organization with her husband, John Leonard, in 2008 and traveled to Fiji where she was placed in a traditional Fijian village in rural Viti Levu.
While there, she gained experiences and insight on the lives of others by living with the locals, learning their language and practicing their traditions. As a business volunteer, she taught fundamental business skills, personal finance, project design and management, and even an aerobics class. Not only did she improve the lives of others through the Peace Corps, she was also able to help the organization. Currie assisted in the training of new volunteers and developed feasibility study documents that are still used by the Peace Corps today. After being completely submerged in another culture, she left the South Pacific with a broader outlook on life and a desire to continue learning.
Currie, the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, uses these life experiences as the inspiration to find new challenges every day.
Currie grew up in a small town in Oregon with dreams of eventually getting out and experiencing life in a larger, busier place. She followed through on this desire and left the Pacific Northwest to attend the University of Dallas, where she obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 2004 and 2006, respectively.
“I received my bachelor’s degree in art – painting actually – with a concentration in psychology,” Currie said. “After a while, I decided that being an artist may not be the best choice for me, so I went back and pursued a master’s degree in business administration, with a focus on nonprofit business management.”
The time used on studying paid off for Currie.
In 2005, she landed her first job at the American Heart Association (AHA) and slowly worked her way up the ladder. By 2007, she was the Auction Director of one of the largest wine auctions in the southwest, the Côtes de Coeur. In her final year working on the event it raised, more money than any of the AHA wine auctions in the past.
Currie left the AHA in 2008 to join the Peace Corps but that did not end career with the organization—in 2010 she returned to the AHA, this time in Seattle and as a Heart Walk Director—but after two years she sought new challenges to help her grow.
In April 2013, Currie accepted a job as the Director of Institutional Advancement at the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy.
“Although I could have continued with the heart association,” she said. “I saw this as a new opportunity for me, something that was a challenge. I had never worked in higher education before and I wanted that experience.”
As the Director of Institutional Advancement, Currie is responsible for directing fundraising initiatives for the college, planning events, managing donors and volunteers, helping to secure grants, and assisting with alumni affairs. She also has plans in trying to expand relations and interactions among students, faculty and alumni.
“The most important thing is keeping everyone connected,” she said. “We can create a network of strong community relationships and professional contacts for our College though events, webpages, Facebook, Twitter, any avenue to reach out.”
Currie has plans to help the Texas A&M Rangel College of Pharmacy excel in the future as much as it has in the past, hoping to secure new endowments, foundation grants and individual donations.
“I believe more endowments will be the key to our success,” Currie said. “If more of our students receive scholarships that will help with recruitment. The more endowments we have the more competitive we are as an institution.”
Story by Arturo Niño, junior English major at Texas A&M University-Kingsville