A domino effect often occurs when you do something nice for an
individual. Your act of kindness inspires that person to help someone else, so
on and so forth. Often referred to as “paying it forward,” this concept is not
foreign to Majani Lullein.
Her experience at Hodges as an English as
a Second Language (ESL) and degree-seeking student is what motivates her to
help others realize the opportunities that exist with an education.
“For me, education is an asset that no one can take away; it
is yours until death,” she said.
Immigrating to the U.S. from Venezuela in 2000, Lullein
arrived in Southwest Florida with years of experience working in radio and
television. Earning dual degrees in journalism and business administration and
marketing, she gained experience as a radio talent and television news anchor.
After marrying her husband Ricardo, the two founded
Anchorage Productions Media, a company focused on advertising and producing
radio and television commercials. However, her desire to learn English and seek
better opportunities was met with encouragement from her husband. Researching
ESL programs in Florida, her husband found the Hodges website, which was
International College at the time.
“Its mission, vision and values were what we liked the most
about Hodges because it is made for people like me – a working adult with
business and family responsibilities,” she said.
Enrolling in the ESL program was scary at first; however,
she needed to learn English in order to attain her personal and professional
goals. Learning to read, write, use grammar and speak in English, she developed
confidence in her abilities, which she knew was necessary to become a
“The ESL program helped me to transition to the
English-speaking world confidently and comfortably,” she said. “Without it, I
would not have been able to complete my education in this country.”
With her husband traveling back and forth from the U.S. to
Venezuela to handle the business, she initially thought her experience in the
U.S. would be to learn English and return to Venezuela. However, as hostility
in her country grew, the two decided to stay in the U.S., establishing a branch
of their Venezuela business, Anchorage Productions Media, in Fort Myers. With
the responsibility of running a business, she didn’t let it stop her from
continuing her education.
After completing the ESL program, she enrolled in Hodges’
Associate of Science in paralegal studies program, saying, “As a
first-generation college student, I have always been interested in the law and
how the rulings of the courts impact serious issues in the world. I also felt
that it would be a good degree for an independent business professional such as
Transitioning from ESL to a degree-seeking program proved
difficult. Struggling with the curriculum, she often turned to Hodges’ faculty
and staff for support and encouragement, specifically Dr. William
Cooney, Dr. Elsa Rogers, Dr.
Jan Brock and Professor Leisha
“I am grateful to all of them, as well as the
administration, staff and faculty, who always made me feel comfortable and at
home. They understood it was not easy to make radical lifestyle changes. They
respected and supported my commitment to learning a new language while pursuing
my academic goals,” she explained.
Graduating cum laude in 2005, she immediately enrolled in
the Bachelor of Science in legal studies program and went on to graduate cum
laude in 2007.
As a result of her work within the community as vice
president of Anchorage Productions Media, as well as her commitment to learn
and succeed at Hodges, she represents the university within the Hispanic
community. For 10 years, Lullein continues to serve as the spokesperson,
sharing her story of success through TV, magazines, newspapers and radio,
saying, “I meet people who share their own Hodges experience with me. Many of
them are immigrants, people with big hopes and dreams, and they tell me that my
story of overcoming language and cultural barriers inspired them to learn more,
work harder and get their education.”
Apart from her work in TV and radio advertising, she is a
contributing writer for various Hispanic magazines and newspapers in Southwest
Florida. Writing on behalf of the university, her goal is to encourage her
readers “to learn and improve themselves through higher education.”
Lullein takes this message to heart as she firmly believes
in the benefits of learning at any age. After learning about Hodges’ new Intensive English Program
(IEP) Bridge, she enrolled in 2016 to “brush up on my writing skills for my
company.” Learning from former professor and friend Leisha Cali, as well as
Professor Francisco Perez-Mas, she admits the class helped to refresh her
knowledge, as well as provide new information using new technology.
Overcoming various obstacles during her time at Hodges,
Lullein is proud of her accomplishments and determination. As an immigrant, the
language barrier and cultural differences proved challenging at times. However,
with the support of Hodges, her husband and her two children, Kamila and
Adrian, she persevered, and in 2013, Hodges presented her with the Founders
Award, which recognizes a graduate who has provided outstanding and
distinguished service to the community. In addition, she served as part of
Hodges’ “Follow the Leaders” campaign, which was featured in TV ads, posters
and other marketing materials.
“I have overcome many difficulties and realized many dreams.
I am so proud of myself for what I have done so far. Part of who I am today is
accredited to my educational experience at Hodges. I am blessed with the family
and life I have in this great country,” she said. “My advice to whomever
identifies with my story is that every step in life needs work, and we have to
earn it…No matter the age, social status or economic level, when it comes to
education, it is never too late to go back.”