May 16-22 2003
Back Issues
Bond, Morse, Terry win 2003 Sullivan Awards
Advocate for diversity leads by example
Finals factoids
Music major creates programs for local schools

Tragedy spurs Muslim student’s effort to bring understanding

Finding history among the trees
Community through architecture
Moving toward a more inclusive environment
Jobe leads with faith, activism
Exploring vast worlds with Harrison Awards
Harvey blends work, study with passion for civic participation
Designing women sow success
Merging technology, music and art
From one-room school to athletic field
Persistence pays for Ukrainian student
Swimmer sets her eyes on Olympic event
Firefighting ideal job for Jefferson Scholar
Pruett’s ready to deploy, but not to leave her kids
Cancer survivor helps others

Persistence pays for Ukrainian student

By Charlotte Crystal

Lesya Paisley is not afraid to knock on doors.

Lesya Paisley
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Lesya Paisley

“If you try a tiny bit harder than everyone else, things will work out,” says the vivacious fourth-year student at the McIntire School of Commerce. “If you knock twice instead of once, the door will open. It’s amazing more people don’t do this.”

In the mid-1990s, Paisley was an economics student at the Charkiv Polytechnic Institute in Ukraine. The countries of the former Soviet Union were undergoing wrenching changes — economic, social and political. Paisley’s family had done well under the old regime. Her mother was a nationally recognized clothing designer, and her father was a state official in the Kishinev region of Moldova who was “always on TV.”

But unlike her father, who was a true believer in the old system, Paisley was captivated by the promise of private enterprise in a capitalist economy.

About then, R.J. Reynolds sent a team of Americans to renovate an aging tobacco factory in her hometown. Her class finagled a visit and, through translators, pelted the Americans with questions. The Americans responded with good humor, and one in particular caught Lesya’s eye. Before long, she and John Paisley had purchased pocket English-Ukrainian dictionaries and started dating. Too soon, the factory was finished and the Americans returned to the United States. Beating the odds, Lesya received a visa to visit him.

They were married in 1998, and Paisley soon enrolled in Wytheville Community College. She graduated two years later and was named Student of the Year. Paisley then entered U.Va.’s McIntire School of Commerce as a transfer student and is graduating May 18 with a bachelor’s degree in commerce.

While still a student at Wytheville, Paisley joined the local chapter of Phi Beta Lambda, an organization that promotes business leadership. She was voted president and soon was visiting high schools in Southwest Virginia, talking to students about leadership.

At McIntire, Paisley restarted a chapter of Phi Beta Lambda with six other students. This year the group boasts 35 paid members, has brought in speakers from around Grounds, as well as from NASA and Deloitte Consulting, and has supported numerous charitable activities, from visiting local nursing homes to taking a group of 20 McIntire students to Richmond for a March of Dimes walkathon.

Phi Beta Lambda also sponsors scholarship competitions, which Paisley has taken advantage of. Two years ago, she entered the competition in quantitative methods and won first place in the nationals. This year, she placed first in the regional contest for future business executives and will compete in the nationals this summer. “Life is what you make of it,” said Paisley. “If you want to enjoy it, there’s nothing stopping you.”



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