Lita Abele, Rowan College of South Jersey board of trustee member and award-winning local businesswoman, will share stories from her book “A Journey to Now” at an upcoming book signing event at the College.
Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) is proud to host a free book signing event for local businesswoman Lita Abele’s new literary piece, “A Journey to Now.” The program will take place on Thursday, Nov. 9 at 11 a.m., in the Rastelli Business and Corporate Center located on the College’s Gloucester campus.
This event is sponsored by the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce and Cornerstone Bank. All proceeds from the book go directly to the
Rowan College Foundation
, which provides financial support to RCSJ–Gloucester students.
Abele, who is of Filipino descent, is the President and CEO of US Lumber, Inc., a multi-million dollar building material distributor. The company is based in Woodbury Heights, in Gloucester County.
“A Journey to Now” is the fifth book written by the award-winning entrepreneur. It is a compilation of chapters taken from several of her previous books including, “The Self Architect Redesigning Your Life,” and “Dis-rupt 2.0 Filipina Women Daring to Lead.”
“It’s my experience,” Abele said, as she gave a brief synopsis of the book. “It’s [about] what I’ve been through – what [took place in] the beginning, when I left the Philippines, to where [I am in life] now.”
Abele, who is also an RCSJ Board of Trustee member, is thrilled the College is hosting the event. “This is a new experience for me,” said Abele, who previously participated in book signings with PWN, an international book publishing organization for women.
“I will be in front of college students and others,” she noted. “I will … tell them about a little bit of my journey and [I will be] there signing my book. How cool is that?”
RCSJ students who attend the event will receive a copy of “A Journey to Now” for free.
Abele was born in the Southeast Asia country and became a teacher as an adult. Abele’s wages were minimal and that made it a struggle to support her family, which consisted of herself and two children. Rather than wallow in the muck of poverty, she set an intention that eventually came to fruition.
“I always dream[ed] to [go] to the United States, because it is a land of opportunity,” she revealed. How she made it to the U.S. – and the initial harrowing experiences she endured once she got here – are eye-opening. You can learn a lot more about those adventures by reading “A Journey to Now” and by attending the book signing event.
One person who has already read the book is RCSJ Dean of Business Studies, Dr. Patricia Claghorn. She had nothing but kind words to say about Abele’s recent literary work.
“It inspired me,” she declared. “It is a story of sacrifice and hard work, which can serve as a guide for our students who may be encountering obstacles in their own lives.
“My favorite quote from the book is, ‘I truly believe that my culture and heritage gave me the strength and persistence to move away from distraction, to embrace the struggle, and to go against the grain when necessary.’”
Some of the hardships the dean, who has been with the College since 2004, is referring to relate to the fact Abele is an immigrant, Filipina woman working in a male-dominated lumber industry. The author’s accent was another barrier she had to overcome to gain respect in the field.
There was one instance, according to Abele, when she was in a meeting, and she mispronounced someone’s name. The room – full of American men – laughed, snickered, and ridiculed her because of the accidental mispronunciation. Abele left the room shedding tears of hurt and embarrassment.
Suddenly, a thought came over her. Although they laughed, she silently said to herself “Can they speak three languages? I can speak English because English is our second language. I can speak the Filipino language. I can speak a little bit of Spanish.”
Abele learned to turn the “negative” of her accent into a positive. When the CEO reaches out to customers and potential buyers over the phone, they know exactly who they are speaking to because, like Nat King Cole, her voice is “Unforgettable.”
Navigating through onerous experiences such as these, with resilience and grace, have helped Abele receive high-profile recognition and win numerous awards including: one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the United States in the category of Building and Emerging Leaders, in 2009; one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women Globally in 2017; SJ Magazine’s 2017 Women of Excellence Inspiration Award; the National Association of Women Business Owners South Jersey (NAWBO SJ) Woman Business Owner of the Year, that same year; plus many more.
Earlier this year, the trailblazing author played a major role in initiating a partnership between
RCSJ and Central Mindanao University
, in the Philippines. This partnership is intended to cultivate a multicultural learning experience between the College and the Filipino school’s nursing students.
According to RCSJ, “The agreement will … foster exchanges of academic personnel, student study abroad programs, and video exchange of laboratory simulations.”
Abele, who loves travelling across the world and learning about different cultures, plans to use the book signing as an opportunity to share the knowledge she has gained during her life with attendees. One of her main priorities is to empower women.
“The advice I can give to the young ones is [to] embrace who you are. Don’t hide your talent,” Abele advised. “Be strong. If you are like me, a dreamer, you go for that dream. If somebody [gives] you an opportunity for that dream, you grab it, you hold onto that and don’t let go.”
“She has always served as a role model for our students, especially our female students, who are able to see who they can become by learning from her example,” Claghorn added. “Lita is teaching us to embrace who we are, to be ourselves, and be brave.”
Abele imparted a few more bits of insight she assured will help us all. “Be thankful and always share your knowledge with somebody else. Don’t be greedy,” she asserted.
“If you are determined, persistent, hardworking and use common sense you will be successful. Always be honest and never forget where you came from.”