Auburndale 02466

Sharing Success is 'Top Notch'

Joanna de Peña '13

Joanna de Peña '13 is all smiles with youngsters at the Boys and Girls Club in Lawrence, MA

Joanna Desiree de Peña ‘13 wants to speak to one million kids by the end of 2015. And at the rate she's going, she just might. The self-described "motivational speaker, life coach and entrepreneur" put her Lasell BS in Business Management to good use by founding Top Notch Network, an organization that hosts community-based networking events and workshops to help create scholarships for urban youth "just like me," de Peña says. Top Notch is supported and staffed by millennial entrepreneurs and professionals who dedicate a percentage of the profit from membership fees to the scholarship effort.
Leaves caught up with the enthusiastic young alum during a busy day of local speaking gigs.

What attracted you to Lasell? Aside from location, the hands-on learning experience, small class size and opportunity for one-to-one interaction with professors.

How did your major help you pursue your profession? From ethics to research, the way I run my business is based on strategies and teamwork-building skills I learned at Lasell.

Talk about your goal of speaking to one million kids by the end of 2015. I got into motivational speaking almost by accident after addressing a group of middle-schoolers and witnessing the impact it could have. I decided to dream big and set a goal of speaking to one million kids about future opportunities and expanding their horizons. What keeps me motivated is the positive feedback I get, seeing the fire in kids' eyes for the desire to succeed.

What books are on your nightstand? Lincoln on Leadership by Donald T. Phillips, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

Who are your heroes? My mother, who is always there for me. Also, Steve Kelley, my former coach at the Lawrence Boys and Girls Club, who taught me life skills through the sport of basketball that have carried me to this day.

What are your hobbies/passions? Basketball and international travel are hobbies; empowering inner-city kids through scholarship opportunities is my passion.

Why is it important to stay connected to your alma mater? To give back to a place that you were once a part of, to reach out to younger generations of Lasell students who may want to learn about navigating life outside of the college classroom-with success. If I can do it, I know they can!

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