Leesa Levisay is an upbeat mother of three who has faced challenges - some of which were quite difficult to overcome. Despite experiencing those vicissitudes of life, family and music have remained a comforting constant for Leesa. She has served as the music director for the First Presbyterian Church “off and on” since 1983 and has given music lessons to community youth since 1986.

But inside Leesa there harbored another passion outside the music realm. As a child she had wanted to work with animals. Now, thanks to a local veterinarian clinic, Leesa has been able to realize that dream while continuing to play a major role in her community's music world.

Question: You are particularly devoted to your music students. How did it all come about?

Answer: “I grew up in a musical family. My father played the piano by ear. My mother started teaching me to read music and play the organ when I was four years old.

“I still really wanted to become a veterinarian. But I started looking at the schooling, which I found to be very daunting. So I decided to go into music. I felt it was something that would be compatible with raising a family; I always knew I wanted to have children. So that's how I got into teaching music.”

Question: You were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. How did music get you through the trauma of your illness and treatment?

Answer: “Of course, my family was right there, around me. But when they were gone to school or to work, I was in constant contact with people coming into my (music) studio during the day for my classes. They were always there for me, giving me hugs, praying with me, being supportive of me. I remember my little students would say, 'You look cool with your dew rag on, Miss Leesa.' And it was the music that provided that connection.”

Question: About two years ago you were given an opportunity to start a new chapter in your life, allowing you to embrace that other vocation and be near animals. How did that happen?

Answer: “I met “Dr. Karen” (Hobbs) ages ago when she brought her children to music classes. Her kids got older and more involved in other things and quit taking piano, so we lost touch.

“It was my middle daughter's senior year when I was at one of her volleyball games. And Karen was there.

“I had once told her it had been a dream of mine to work with animals. And I wanted to go back to get training to become a tech. She told me, 'You wouldn't have to do that. You can come work for me, and I'll train you.'

“She had an opening for a receptionist, but only for the mornings. I told her that was perfect; that was what I wanted. I love teaching and didn't want to give up my afternoon classes.

“So now I am getting to do both things, and I absolutely love it.”