Name: Sarah Kassem Elyaman
Title/Company or main life pursuit: Attorney and founder of Absolute Law Group, PA
What is your word and why did you chose it? My word is ‘gratitude.’ As I reflected on which word to pick, I thought of my journey to get to this point in my life. I remember sitting on the floor of my empty office several years ago after signing my first lease in The Villages thinking, “What the heck am I doing opening an office in one of the most conservative towns in America dressed the way I do?!” By dressed the way I do, I mean choosing to cover my hair by wearing a headscarf called a “hijab.” I expressed my concerns to one of my law school professors, Dennis Calfee, and he said something that still stays with me until this day, “Sarah, as long as you strive to be the best at what you do, people won’t care what you look like. When the rubber meets the road, they want the most qualified person for the job. Just make sure that person is you.” I’m thankful to say he was right. I know that we have a lot to work on as a country, but my experience has shown me that the American dream is still alive. If you are willing to put the work in, anything is possible. Our firm currently has three office locations and we are continuing to expand. I have had the honor to serve clients that have become my friends and employ staff that have become my family. This area has opened its heart to me in a way that I could have never expected, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years? Personally, I’d like to break glass ceilings and become a successful female entrepreneur. I’d like our law firm to become a household name in this area that’s synonymous with quality legal work and great customer service.
Favorite way to give back to the community? I love to give back by providing as much free education as possible. As a founder member of the National Alliance of Alzheimer Planning Attorneys, it’s become a mission of mine to empower as many people with alzheimers and dementia and their families as I possibly can. I’ve been fortunate enough to write three books on the topic that I give out to the public free of charge and try to do at least one speaking engagement per week. It can be such an intimidating diagnosis, but I want families to feel like they are not alone in this fight.
What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I have met some of the most kind-hearted, giving people in this town. Compared to where I was born and raised in Tampa, there’s absolutely no traffic here! Also, the horse farms are incredible. I love driving by them when I’m having a stressed-out day to just take in the greenery.
A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? Ohhh, that’s hard. For music, almost anything country will work. As for movies, “Twelve Angry Men,” “The Verdict,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “A Few Good Men,” “The Rainmaker,” Michael Clayton,” “The Godfather,” the “Rocky” movies … stereotypical lawyer, much?
You never leave home without: Lipstick! I’m an addict. Wearing it makes me feel like a lady.
If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: It’s okay to be awkward and nerdy. Own it. It’ll pay off later :-)
Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout: I absolutely love being a mother to my amazing toddler! There’s just something about being a parent that gives you a renewed sense of purpose in life. He teaches me how to live in the moment and enjoy the little things. I consider my son to be one of my greatest blessings.