OCTOBER MVP - Lea Abales

We chose Lea Abales of Embassy Suites Louisville for Most Valuable Participant. Lea is truly a team player: she's always offering to help, and has a positive, can-do attitude. And her manager agrees with us!:

"I feel like Lea deserves the nomination due she is always willing to pick up shifts or come in early when needed. She goes above and beyond to help the guest out. She always has a smile on her face when she walks in the door."


We asked Lea a few questions about herself and her J1 experience!

Fun Facts About You:

1. My favourite colours are black and white.

2. I like being on my own, but I don't feel lonely, and I have good friends.

3. I need lots of sleep otherwise I get cranky and depressed.

4. My favourite films of all time are Dear John, Serendipity and The Notebook.

Another thing: I absolutely LOVE coffee. 😋

Why did you choose to come on a J1 Internship program?

Interning and living in a new country will give you a new perspective. It’s a chance to explore and immerse yourself in a new culture. What if I don’t fit in? What if I fail? These thoughts might come to mind while preparing to live and intern abroad even if it’s my second time already – whether in the United States or as Americans headed to overseas. It is only natural to feel a mix of anxiety, excitement, and fear when you face a new challenge. But, it’s important to let yourself be vulnerable.

As Nelson Mandela said, “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

What are your career plans once you return home? How are you hoping to apply the training you’ve learned?

My career goal is to take up new challenges each time to revive myself and add value to the future company that I will be a part of. I will achieve this with all keen observation, practice, innovation and dedication that I’ve been putting for the past year and all learnings that I gained in this training program. 

How is this program different from your previous J1 program you completed in New York City? 

Living in the New York City was an amazing experience for me. Before going there, my image of the city was like a typical urban big city with many commercial buildings and the famous Empire State, Big Apple, Statue of Liberty etc. If I had visited there as just a traveler, that may not have changed. Living in NYC for three and half month stay made me realize how New York City residents and people working in this city have tried to preserve their cultural tradition and memories and deliver them to the next generation. Living in America to our one and only Urban Bourbon Experience, featuring the world’s only, city-wide trail filled with award-winning micro-distilleries, exhibits and craft cocktail destinations. Then discover one-of-a-kind attractions like the legendary Churchill Downs, Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and the Muhammad Ali Center. And that’s just your first day here. Louisville has been kind to me from my co-worker or even just a stranger from the street. I can say that I’m thankful that I used to work on a big city which has been my training ground and eye opener but Louisville has been became a part of me until I get old. 

What has been the most memorable part of your program?

I believe to be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It’s not about winning and losing, It's about hard work and about thriving on challenge. It’s about embracing the pain that you’ll experience at the end of the race and not being afraid. I think people think too hard and get afraid of a certain challenge. 

K.Leigh Furzer