Leilanie Pallen

Last updated: 2006

Leilanie Pallen

2006 Beat the Odds Honoree

Leilanie Pallen’s outward strength and confidence masks a very difficult childhood. As a young girl, Leilanie believed she lived a “fairy tale” life, living with two siblings and her parents in a large house in San Leandro. Her world was shattered however, when she discovered her father’s drug problem at the age of seven. Drugs consumed their finances and forced the family to move in with friends. By age 9, Leilanie and her family was living in hotels. Her grandmother generously opened her home to Leilanie and her mother and siblings, but by this time, they had missed a great deal of school and were behind in their studies. They had to make up courses during their vacations to catch up to grade level. Despite these setbacks, Leilanie maintains an impressive 4.0 GPA. She is truly a leader in her community, having served as assistant coach for the sports teams at the local parks and at the local Boys and Girls Club. As part of her commitment to community service, she initiated a tutoring program at a local middle school. Her teacher says, “She has a special insight on issues and events that many times make her appear older than her peer group; although this does not separate her from them.” Even with a full schedule, she would like to start a drug prevention program in her district’s middle schools. Leilanie’s life is one of giving. She says: “I have a deep passion for children and enjoy being the positive role model in their life.” It is fitting that her intended major is Child Psychology. CDF- California is greatly honored to acknowledge Leilanie as a 2006 CDF Beat the Odds® recipient.