Finding Her Passion

Author: Jessica Argyle
Published: May 11, 2017

Shauna Lileks will graduate from College of Western Idaho (CWI) on May 13, 2017. The road to her college degree began two years after her youngest daughter, Charli, was born. Charli was a surprise, born 13 years after Lileks’s other three daughters. Lileks, who was working to start a photography business at the time, found keeping up with a little one again challenging.

She recalled, “After an evening of staying up until 3 a.m. editing photos, [Charli] got up and wouldn’t go back to bed. I told my husband, “This is not working! I need to just go get a certificate and be an administrative assistant. I am not going back to a call center.””

When Charli turned three, Lileks started the Administrative Specialist program at CWI. One of her first classes was COMM 101 with Michelle Mahoney, Assistant Professor in Communication. In class that semester, Mahoney could see the potential for Lileks, and encouraged her to pursue a degree in Communication.

That fall, Lileks took Mahoney’s Media Storytelling course, which is where Lileks says her passion for storytelling began. She had always enjoyed telling stories through photography and says she comes from a long line of storytellers. She believes her passion for storytelling started a long time ago, she just didn’t know it.

 “I knew it had a purpose, I just didn’t know where it was leading me to,” she said.

The final project for class that semester was a three to six-minute video interview. Lileks struggled the entire way through the project – things kept falling through, the sound was not right, and she was forced to start over multiple times. Shooting footage two days before the deadline and editing up until the hour before it was due, she presented a final video everyone loved.

“I was so stressed about it that I was in tears…but it wasn’t tears of frustration, it was tears of joy that it turned out as well as it did and that I discovered how much I LOVED doing it!”

“Shauna is a creative soul who thrives on challenge,” Mahoney said. “If we have a deadline, she is the one sitting at an edit bay until midnight. She is the one driving to who-knows-where and back five times to get the footage needed. It has been such a pleasure watching this woman come into her own and find her purpose in life. The passion was there all along and it was awesome seeing Shauna discover it for herself.”

In addition to her communication studies, Lileks was able to participate in Media Club, work in the Media Lab, and intern in the Communication Department. Through these experiences, she discovered her true passion lies in sharing her expertise and knowledge of storytelling with others. Lileks will graduate with an Associate of Arts degree in Communication and said she ultimately hopes finish her education at Boise State University and come back to CWI to teach.

Lileks is already off to a great start teaching and sharing her love of storytelling with Charli, now a bright and curious six-years old. Charli loves mom’s “job” at school and has already decided to attend CWI when she grows up. She cannot wait to create videos of her own and be just like her mom.

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