Never let words count you out!

Submitted By: Lea Black | Age: 55 

Lea-2012I was abandoned at a Catholic church as a small child when my mother was forced to have me because she couldn’t afford an illegal abortion. I grew up in an orphanage and then foster care.

I was pregnant at 16, kept my baby and finished school despite being told I’d be just like my mother and amount to nothing.

Through the generosity of the church and my foster mother I attended the University of WA where I got a degree in Aeronautical Engineering despite being told it was not a girl’s field.

I got a job in an aerospace manufacturing company where I worked as a buyer for a few years and went to a technical college where I became a certified journeyman machinist.

The teacher hated me and said I was a distraction.

From there I went onto another community college and got an APIM certification while working days and going to school nights. I was promoted to an International Marketing Manager and took a leave of absence to go for my MBA at Tuck University at Dartmouth because they also had some very fine leadership courses.

I ultimately became VP of Operations where it was my job to turn around companies in our business that were failing I went on to become a CEO.

Unfortunately I suffered a debilitating stroke while on a business trip to London only 3 years later. Doctors said “You will never walk, never talk and never work again.

I walked within 4 weeks and talked shortly after.

I returned to work after 6 months, but found it impossible to do well. Never to be a half-assed executive, I retired and my life consists of volunteer work now. A woman has the ability to withstand great hardship if she chooses to use the negativity of others as her motivator and persevere. “Perseverance is necessary to establish perfection” (a Masonic mantra).


Sign up to receive inspiration and special offers on Girls Can't WHAT? gifts. It's Free!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.


  1. Sarah @ Fit Family Together on August 14, 2013 at 10:17 am

    I love this story on so many levels – Lea, your defiance, your strength, your determination to define your life despite what people said. Who are we to judge that a life is not worthwhile because it won’t be an easy one. So glad there’s a person like you on this earth, sharing your story for other women!

  2. Connor Harley on September 1, 2013 at 12:01 am

    This is one very inspiring story. This only proves that nothing is impossible and that it is only you who is making your own destiny and don’t let anyone bring you down.

Leave a Comment

Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl?

This is one of many reader entries designed to encourage and inspire other women to rise to the challenge and follow their dreams. Have you ever been told you can't because you're a girl? Share your story!