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Energetic Leadership and Motivational Speaker Pegine Excites Students

Best-selling author and award-winning businesswoman Pegine

November 16, 2022

Best-selling author and award-winning businesswoman Pegine shared her inspirational journey from a rough upbringing on the streets of New York to an advisor to U.S. Presidents and CEOs during the Simpkins Speaker Series event Wednesday on the Cocoa Campus.

Pegine talked about her teen years, when she lost a sister to a drug overdose and became part of a gang.

She knew the moment she wanted to get out, change her life and find out who she was supposed to be.

"Inside my mind, inside my head, this was going on: I am so not going to be like my sister. And in my mind I said, just show me who I am supposed to be," Pegine told the crowd.

Pegine speaking at SImpkins event
With only $1,000 in her pocket, she got on an airplane and moved to Spain at the age of 17.

She went to multiple nursery schools looking for a job, but because she did not speak Spanish well, everyone turned her down.

With the need to make money quickly, she had the idea to open what she called the first bilingual preschool where she was living in Spain.

“I remembered that in the United States bilingual education was going on,” she said. “I finally decided that I would open a bilingual nursery school for English and Spanish and with the help of a local investor I was able to do it," said Pegine. "It was then that I knew I could do anything.”

An introduction video drove home just how far she has come, showing Pegine as an advisor to U.S. Presidential task forces, international organizations and numerous Fortune 500 companies. Her focus is on teaching leadership skills and the importance of effectivey engaging with people and stakeholders.

Pegine, who lives in Jacksonville,  is the founder of Power Women Worldwide, and goes by one name while joking that if it's good enough for Oprah and Beyoncé, it's good enough for her.

Her newest book is "Called to Lead: Success Strategies for Women."

Pegine shared many tools, tips and techniques that helped her grow into the entrepreneur that she is today, including stories about influencing, impacting and inspiring others to increase profits, productivity and positivity.

“There is this beautiful buffet of life in front of you and you need to find what you love and take leadership of it. Whatever it is — that you are destined to do. You feel a lot happier when you are doing your passion and living your purpose.”

Pegine interacted with the crowd, which was comprised of EFSC students, plus students from Brevard County high schools, including Viera, Rockledge, Space Coast, Merritt Island, Titusville, Astronaut, Cocoa, plus the Emma Jewel Charter Academy.

At one point she asked if there were any teenage entrepreneurs in the crowd, and selected a young woman who said she makes custom t-shirts. Pegine then walked her through how to establish a personal brand during an engaging exhange that led to laughter and lessons that every student could put to use.

The Simpkins Speaker Series is the legacy of highly successful Space Coast entrepreneur and Brevard County business leader, Bernard W. Simpkins, who established the event to bring the nation’s top business innovators to Eastern Florida State College.

Four people on stage with a ceremonial $1,000 scholarship check
Fall 2022 Simpkins Scholarship recipient E'ala Burgess (left) receives her ceremonial check from Tonya Cherry, EFSC Foundation Operations Executive Director, Jill Simpkins, daughter of the late Bernie Simpkins, and Dr. Mike Cadore, EFSC Executive Director of Community Engagement.

During each event, an EFSC student is awarded a $1,000 Simpkins Scholarship by the Eastern Florida State College Foundation for their excellence in the classroom and true entrepreneurial spirit.

The Fall 2022 recipient was EFSC student E’ala Burgess, who is currently pursuing a Business Administration Associate degree and then plans to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management.

“Because of the life I was privy to as a youngster, the entrepreneurial spirit now runs through my soul and I have a determination to succeed with my business, no matter how long it may take or what obstacles come forth,” Burgess wrote in her scholarship application essay.

“I am a driven and ambitious young woman who knows what she wants in life and in business," wrote Burgess, who also works full time and is developing a local pet and house sitting company.

Pegine encouraged that kind of entrepreneurial initiative even while young, emphasizing that entrepreneurship includes being powerful, strong and having an impact.

“Just because you are where you are, does not mean that is where you will end up,” she said. “Be bold. Be brave. Be seen. Be heard. Be paid well. If you don’t do it, it is only you who decided that you couldn’t. Decide that you can because you are worth it.”

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