Leslie Rosa, sales associate at Hawaii Information Service, was an athlete and cheerleader when she was growing up in Kalihi. And her early talents in rooting for the home team still serve her well today.
Her first home was in Honokai Hale in a small subdivision between Kapolei and Koolina, but she attended Makakilo Elementary for only a couple of years before her family moved to her grandmother’s “huge house” in Kalihi.
Games played a special role in Leslie’s life. Her father, a Farrington high school graduate, was a video game mechanic, working on game cabinets, pinball machines, even cigarette machines at arcades and bowling alleys. Her mom, who attended Waipahu High School, was a game room attendant at the GEM store in Kalihi.
“I was a video game freak,” Leslie recalls. “I hung out a lot with my dad over the weekends, and I knew how to work the credits and get free games.”
In fact, Leslie and her five older siblings lived every kid’s dream, their dad bringing home games that the arcades didn’t have use for any more. In their Kalihi garage, you could find genuine stand-up game consoles like Pac Man, Ladybug, and Moon Cresta.
Fortunately, Leslie didn’t fit the profile of a typical video game fanatic, and was both active and creative in her early years.
While attending Kalihi Elementary, she won the ‘Most Athletic Award’ at Camp Erdman, and a presidential fitness certificate. At Dole Intermediate, she won an art award and an exhibit at Ala Moana Center for her three-dimensional batik-dyed painting of a bubble gum machine. And at Farrington High School, she joined the cheerleading squad.
The family CB station.
Leslie also served as the vice president of her school’s chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, and was part of the Junior Achievement program. She even enjoyed her school’s data programming class, and often jumped on her parents CB radio station and went with them to Radio Shack.
“CB radios were a big thing back then,” she says. “My brother had one in his car, and my parents had a home base set up.”
“It was sort of a social network like Facebook, except everybody could hear you, and that’s how we met people,” she adds. “You could talk to people from far away, park at the beach and talk with someone on the neighbor islands.”
And that’s how Leslie met her future husband Lawrence. She’d come out to Waipahu to go to the carnival, he’d take the bus into town and they’d hang out at the beach. His CB handle was “Little Local Lover,” so she adopted the name “Little Local Lover’s Chic.”
“Triple-L and Triple-L-C,” she laughs. “He was also on the starting lineup for Waipahu’s football team, so sometimes I would cheer for him, too.”
Her cheerleading experiences — becoming co-captain her junior year and captain as a senior — built her confidence and leadership skills.
Leslie, second from right, on the Farrington High School cheerleading squad.
“Being captain, I had to coordinate routines, solicit feedback, and lead everyone in the right direction,” Leslie says. “I remember we had two girls that hated each other but loved cheering, and I had to tell them to keep it outside the squad or do something else.”
“We were all friends, so we had to work together — it was nerveracking, but it was my first sense of teamwork,” she adds.
And Farrington had a shot at the state OIA championship that year, and made it to the playoffs. Leslie had a lot to cheer for, as her future husband was playing on the other side.
Leslie and her future husband at her senior prom.
After high school, Leslie took office administration courses and started work at Liberty Bank, which became HonFed, which became American Savings Bank, transitions she rode out over a busy few years. She and Lawrence welcomed their first son, Lawrence Rosa IV, when she was 19, prompting her to find a job offering full-time hours, and more money.
She landed a job at AIG Insurance where she would work for fourteen years. After one year on the job she and her husband would get married and become homeowners within a span of three months.
“My mother in law had just bought her place, and told us about the Hula Mae program that helped with down payments,” Leslie says. “I didn’t think we could qualify, but we went down to the sales office to check it out, and went for it.”
A year and a half later, they found out their second son Leighton was on the way.
“We were thinking of getting a puppy, and I said we might as well have a kid,” she laughs.
Not long after AIG was bought and became Farmers Insurance, Leslie left to join Hawaii Information Service. It was a tip from Michelle Geronimo that brought her to HIS.
“Michelle was my connection here, she was my lunch buddy, and she came here five months prior,” Leslie says. “When she left, I told her I wanted first dibs on the next opportunity, and I’m glad she thought about me when it came up.”
Leslie’s first day at HIS was in October 2012, on her older son’s birthday.
Leslie’s wedding day!
“It was very exciting, and I feel so blessed being here,” she says. “I remember walking in here before Halloween, and there were all these decorations up, and I was just amazed at the friendly atmosphere — immediately I felt good.”
And she took comfort in knowing Michelle was working with her sister, CEO Faith Geronimo, and even in Faith’s name.
“I really believe in faith, and following your gut feeling that everything’s going to work out,” Leslie says. “I thought I was put in a place where I could be most helpful and have a good feeling about what I do daily, even though I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do at the time.”
She was familiar with the TMK public records product thanks to her insurance background, but was new to real estate. Though she came on board as administrative support for HIS sales and marketing, she was excited at the opportunity to transition to a sales position.
“It was not my comfort zone, but I knew I could do it if I found focus, and was flexible, and worked hard,” she recalls. “I got great training from Colleen (VP of Sales and General Manager) and I have a great support team, things got rolling quickly.”
Leslie says she thinks a lot about the people she works with.
“I have some of the best teammates I’ve ever had — I’ve worked with great people, but finding a whole company of great people is crazy,” she said. “Everybody contributes in their own unique way, we really can be open and honest with each other, and it’s amazing to me to see that people can actually work with each other at every level.”
Leslie’s son Leighton (#3, far right) at the 2011 Pop Warner Superbowl in Florida.
Teamwork and teammates carry extra meaning for Leslie as her sons grow up and follow their own paths into athletics. Lawrence IV was the starting right tackle on Campbell Sabers 2009 OIA JV White Division I championship team. Leighton was on the Kapolei Titans Pop Warner Pee Wee Division team that went to the 2011 national championships at ESPN Wild World of Sports in Florida.
The proud mom has recorded hours of video of them playing football, baseball, wrestling and judo over the past decade, eventually getting enlisted to video tape for the school.
“For Pop Warner football, often times I’ll be on the 50-yard line, standing on a 6-foot ladder, with umbrella in one hand and video camera in the other,” she laughs.
Fortunately, keeping her balance, working with a great team while raising her sons to be great teammates, comes naturally.
Leslie with her husband and two sons.
You can ask Leslie what her favorite classic video games were (and share your own) by emailing her at email@example.com. Make sure you didn’t miss our earlier profiles of Raun, Michelle, Colleen, Mike,Diana, Preston, Faith, Sam, Gay, and Novena.