This month we are pleased to feature our youngest alumni to date, Leisha Majtan, a proud member of the Class of 2007. Under Leisha’s yearbook picture it states that in 10 years, she will be “waking you up at 7am on the Today Show.” We are so excited that she is well on her way and are proud to have her as a Little Falls Alumni. Leisha has yet to celebrate her 10 year high school reunion and she has already accomplished her dream of entering the world of news reporting in New York City. While Leisha has achieved her dream through a lot of hard work and dedication, she does not deny that the small town experiences and relationships she developed while at Little Falls High School gave her essential tools that led to her path of success. Here is her story:
Growing up in Little Falls, for lack of a better word, was lovely. We were able to just be kids. We spent summer days and nights riding our Razor scooters all around town, ate way too much pizza at Ed’s, and went on more group outings than I can count to Valley Cinema to catch the latest blockbuster. We always felt safe as everyone in town was laid back and welcoming. Little Falls is also so full of rich culture and history. My dad always made sure I knew where I was from and what and WHO made Little Falls the city it is today.
It’s very easy for me to say my favorite teacher was Mrs. Oriolo, or as we affectionately called her, “O.” O was my 9th grade English teacher, our class adviser and she had the reputation of being one of those really tough high school teachers. Don’t get me wrong – she was tough. She expected high quality work and kept us on our toes. But she was exactly the kind of teacher you need as a cocky freshman. She’s incredibly smart, always kept class fun and interesting, was encouraging and she treated us like adults. She also had such a big heart for all of her students. O welcomed us in her classroom whenever we needed someone to chat with, complain to, or just share a cry or laugh. Even though there was always stacks of paperwork looming behind her, she made time for us and definitely had a hand in making my four years at LFHS memorable.
After high school, I applied to a handful of tough-to-get-into colleges. I ultimately was not accepted where I really wanted to go and so instead, I enrolled in the Radio/TV program at HCCC. Don’t misunderstand, I wanted nothing more than to go away to college but, looking back, I am so happy I went to HCCC. The program there is top-notch and I have continued my friendships with many of my professors and classmates. I was able to stay home, work, and save money. After graduating from HCCC, I transferred to Emerson College in Boston where I enrolled in the journalism program. Upon earning my Bachelor’s degree in May 2011, I decided to go to graduate school and was accepted into the full-time, one year program at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
During my time at HCCC, I interned for a semester at WKTV, our local NBC news affiliate. While there, I was able to get a taste of what it’s like to cover local news. After graduating from Columbia, I was hired as a field producer at NY1 News, Time Warner Cable’s 24-hour local news channel. I would spend some days traveling to all five boroughs, gathering video and interviews for news stories. Since working at NY1, I’ve covered everything from crime, to the Tony Awards, to New York Fashion Week, red carpet movie premiers, the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Most recently, I traveled to Philadelphia to cover Pope Francis’ first visit to the US. Today, I wear many hats in the newsroom but primarily cover the boroughs of Queens and Staten Island and also now report on-air. I shoot, write and edit all of my own stories. While it sometimes appears the media only covers bad news, I’m happy to say I also get to meet and highlight a lot of amazing New Yorkers as well.
While I did love growing up in Little Falls and in Central New York, it made me wonder what else was out there. Growing up in a small town piqued my curiosity and pushed me to try new things and visit new places. Also, because Little Falls is such a small town and I was able to forge close relationships with teachers at LFHS, I feel I had wonderful support in whatever I wanted to do. I believe my upbringing and the support I received from family, teachers, and friends gave me the courage to live my dream.
Some of my best memories from LFHS are definitely from my years involved with the drama club. Though our rehearsal days were extremely long, I had a blast and made some of my best friends. “Footloose” was probably my favorite show. I’m still not sure how I ever sang a solo on stage!
To any current students at LFHS today, I would say take advantage of growing up in a small town and being in such a small class. So often in larger school districts, students get lost in the crowd. I’ve done stories at NYC public schools where more than 4,000 students are enrolled! That’s practically the size of all of Little Falls! At LFHS, we are lucky to have such personal attention from our teachers. I always felt comfortable going to them for advice or guidance. In the same breath, so often when you grow up in a small town, you get comfortable. So I would also encourage others to travel, perhaps move away and experience new people and places.
Congratulations to Leisha in finding her niche in the big City and not losing sight of her hometown roots and relationships!
The Little Falls High School Alumni Network’s Where are They Now series was initiated in January of 2015. This feature highlights individuals who have enhanced their lives and/or the lives of others using the foundation of the education they received at LFHS or St. Mary’s and the family values they developed while growing up in Little Falls. Success isn’t always defined by financial achievements. Many people find personal satisfaction by giving back to their communities, organizations or to others in general. Those on the receiving end of these heartfelt contributions may consider this person in the highest regard as well. With this being said, we are looking for individual nominations of Little Falls alumni who have made a difference in the lives of others as well their own. Before submitting your nominations (to AlumniLFHS@gmail.com), please confirm your nominee is currently registered on the Little Falls Alumni Website as this is also a requirement. Thank you and we look forward to reacquainting with our fellow classmates.