Your Neighbor: Meet Leslie Newsome

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 9, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

As parents, we often give children advice through life lessons through first-hand experience. 

Leslie Newsome is finding that to be true with her most recent decision to go back to school to become a therapist. As a mom with a rising senior in high school and youngest child that is double digits too, Newsome has already earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and minor in history from the University of North Carolina. 

“I had always enjoyed creating, so becoming a therapist seemed like a natural step for me,” Newsome said. 

Not long after graduating with her undergraduate degree, Newsome decided to further her education. She earned her master’s in art at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Because of her qualifications, Newsome was offered a teaching stipend to help pay for her tuition. 

After earning her degrees, she moved back home to marry her 5th-grade and West Forsyth High School sweetheart, Ashley. 

“I always swore I would never live where we grew up, but he had come back home so he could take care of his mom, who was very ill,” Newsome said. After she passed away, we ended up staying because he had become co-owner in several of the local Subways where he had started working when he was just 15 years old.”

Newsome had learned how much she enjoyed what art allowed her to do professionally when she taught art classes. 

“I loved interacting with the college students I taught,” Newsome said. Sharing your curiosity and knowledge with them was a great opportunity. I stopped doing that, though, when I realized that I could be of help to Ashley at Subway and when our two children were born. I knew that being a professor would be tougher with flexibility with being a mom and helping at Subway. So, I stopped doing that.

With her kids growing up and finding their own interests and passions, Newsome started taking inventory of what she wanted to do once they headed to college.

“When my oldest got her driver’s license, I realized that time was going to be here before I knew it,” Newsome said. “Part of the qualities that have fueled my interest in counseling coincide with my passion for art. I’m always asking questions, being OK with not having the answers, but always trusting the process.

“A lot of people have been surprised that I’m going back to school at this point in life, but to me, it’s an extension of what I’ve done in my role as a stay-at-home parent and teacher. Counseling is an organic path from what I have already been doing.”

Newsome’s two-year program at Catawba College will be completed in 2025, the same year that her oldest child graduates from high school. 

“I don’t think I would have had this same experience in my program in my early 20s that I do now,” Newsome said. “I wake up at 5:30 a.m. excited and ready to explore the subjects that I’m studying before everyone wakes up. It has been so reinvigorating to get back into the academic world. If I had my magic career wand, what I would create is either a private practice or where I work in an agency where I would see clients several days a week. I would also love to simultaneously teach in an adjunct capacity.”

While Newsome’s program is halfway complete, she doesn’t think learning will stop once she finishes her master’s program. 

“I consider myself a lifelong learner,” Newsome said. I think it’s important to challenge yourself, and I’m excited that this will also include providing a service to my community. The more I have delved into this field, the more I realize that there is such a great need. I also think it’s important for people to understand that mental health is part of your health. You don’t always have to go to counselors when you’re in a crisis point. Seeing a health professional allows you to process information, strengthen relationships, and provide an outlet in a safe space.

“It allows you to become the best version of yourself that you can be. And that person is always changing and evolving which is what I tell my kids all the time. Hopefully, the lesson I’ve learned myself and pass onto them is never to be scared to take that leap of faith even if others may doubt you.”