During the entire month of March, Trucker Tools is bringing you the stories of women from across the transportation industry, from company drivers and owner operators to executives and transportation entrepreneurs. We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting women who are literally making history, paving the way for other women inside and outside the transportation industry. We recently spoke with Lasonja Gadson, who has been an OTR trucker for the last 10 years, to learn more about her journey in trucking. Lasonja is an owner operator based out of South Carolina who also is active in the She Trucking community as a Facebook moderator and mentor to female drivers.

A Chance Encounter with a Stranger Leads To a New Career

In 2009, Lasonja was working at a hotel during the day and a fast food job at night. She told us that with the two jobs that she was able to get by, but that she wasn’t able to accomplish any of the goals that she had at the time. One day, Lasonja saw a female trucker getting out of a big rig and decided to go up to the woman and talk to her. It ended up being a decision that would affect her life in a big way. Lasonja asked the female trucker a lot of questions about what it was like to be a trucker and went away from the conversation interested in becoming one herself. 

“My best friend, he was driving at the time and I had another friend that was driving, too,” said Lasonja. “They kept telling me that I needed to get into trucking, but I wasn’t sure about it. At the time, I was thinking that’s a whole lot of truck and that I wouldn’t be a good fit for that. But seeing that woman get out of that truck changed my mind about the whole thing. When I ran into her, it changed my mind about trucking. Seeing her driving gave me a little bit of courage. I thought, if she can do, I can do it.”

“My best friend, he was driving at the time and I had another friend that was driving, too,” said Lasonja. “They kept telling me that I needed to get into trucking, but I wasn’t sure about it. At the time, I was thinking that’s a whole lot of truck and that I wouldn’t be a good fit for that. But seeing that woman get out of that truck changed my mind about the whole thing. When I ran into her, it changed my mind about trucking. Seeing her driving gave me a little bit of courage. I thought, if she can do, I can do it.”

At the time, South Carolina was offering a quick skills program and was funding job training, including CDL training. Lasonja signed up for the program, completed her training and her trucking career took off from there. After completing her CDL training, she worked as a company driver for five years, drove local for a year and eventually became an owner operator.  

Finding Freedom in Trucking

Lasonja currently is running dry van under a company’s authority mostly in and out of Texas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. She told us that she also loves doing runs up to Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania. According to Lasonja, trucking has taught her a lot about herself and what she’s capable of.

“Trucking has given me insight into a lot of things,” Lasonja shared. “Before, I just wanted a good job that paid well. But with trucking, it helped me to think outside of the box. I realized I could have my own company. I could do my own thing and set my own rules. Before trucking, I never thought about owning anything or even trying to establish a business. Everyone is good at different things and I found something that I’m good at, even though it took me eight or nine years to figure it out. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love it. I love the freedom. Where I work right now, if I decide I want to go home, I can just go.”

Sources of Inspiration

When we asked Lasonja about her role models and who inspires her, she answered without skipping a beat that her mother has been an inspiration to her, as has Sharae Moore, founder of She Trucking. Lasonja also told us that she likes keeping positive energy around her and that when other people are doing positive things, it makes her want to do better for herself. 

“Outside of trucking, I would say my mother is my biggest inspiration,” said Lasonja. “I admire her so much because of her drive that I’ve seen over the years and where she is right now. Sharae is definitely an inspiration, too. I like the fact that she took something and made it so much bigger than it was. At the time, I don’t think she expected that She Trucking would flourish like it has. I like being behind the scenes, but Sharae is good at being at the forefront of things. I admire that about her because she’s not scared. She’s not fearful.”

“Outside of trucking, I would say my mother is my biggest inspiration,” said Lasonja. “I admire her so much because of her drive that I’ve seen over the years and where she is right now. Sharae is definitely an inspiration, too. I like the fact that she took something and made it so much bigger than it was. At the time, I don’t think she expected that She Trucking would flourish like it has. I like being behind the scenes, but Sharae is good at being at the forefront of things. I admire that about her because she’s not scared. She’s not fearful.”

Making Connections and Mentoring New Drivers Through She Trucking

When we spoke with Lasonja, she told us that she met Sharae at a truckers’ networking event in Atlanta a few years ago. They had some mutual friends, went out for dinner after the event and according to Lasonja, just clicked. Lasonja said that the two sat there that night at dinner and talked, exchanged numbers and have kept in touch ever since. Today, they’re good friends. Through Sharae and She Trucking, Lasonja has been mentoring female truckers who are new to the industry. Lasonja also is the admin of She Trucking’s Facebook group.

“I like working with the new women drivers when they’re going through training, taking their tests to get their permits or CDLs,” Lasonja said. “I remember the nervousness of that when I went through it. I was that person. I enjoy the newcomers the most – the questions that they have, the fears that they have. They remind me of me, so I know what their fears are. When you’re a new female driver, you’re excited, you’re scared, you’re fearful, you’re everything at that point. I totally understand what they’re feeling and where they’re coming from.”

Read Female Leaders in Transportation: Trucker Kim Loescher to meet another female leader in transportation who we’re profiling in celebration of Women’s History Month. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/carriers/