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Autobiography

Learningintheartsrequirestheabilityandawillingnesstosurrendertothe
unanticipatedpossibilitiesoftheworkasitunfolds.(ElliotW.Eisner)
Lifeunfoldsinwaysthatarenotalwaysintended.Growingup,myparents
workedhardtoprovideformyyoungersisterandI,whichleftmanyafternoons,
evenings,andsummersfullofactivitiesthatdidnotfocusonthecorecurriculumof
school.Ispenttimeplayingsports,intheatercamps,artcampsandsciencecamps
exploringtheworldaroundmeandlearningtoproblemsolveandcreatewithcreativity.
AsIapproachedhighschoolmyextracurricularactivitiesthatoncewerenotanoption,
butababysitter,becameachoice.Ilovedmusic,andspenthoursinvoicelessons
learningtosingindifferentlanguages.ThenaturalworldfascinatedmeandIpouredmy
energyintothescientificprocessanddiscoveringhowbiologyisaffectedbythe
environment.Ispenthoursuponhoursinshopclassandart,learninghowtoexpressmy
thoughts,feelings,andcreativitythroughcreation.
Duringonesuchcreationsessionwhiledevelopingmyphotographyportfoliomy
junioryear,IlookedupatmyhighschoolteacherwithwideeyesandannouncedIwant
todothisfortherestofmylifeandsheenthusiasticallyreplieddoit!Upuntilthis
pointIhadwantedtobeaneonatalsurgeon,andafterfindingthispassionfortheartsthat
hadbeenbuildingoveryearsitwasashocktomyparentsthatIwasgoingtoabandonmy
ambitionsforanunstablecareerinthearts.Myparentsfearanduncertaintyofmyfuture
didnotstopthisdrivetodiscovermyunanticipatedpossibilitiesasanartist.Mysenior
yearIbegantakingcoursesatthelocalcommunitycollagewhilefinishingmydegreein
highschoolandworkeddiligentlyonbuildingmystudioartsskills.ThatyearIentered

Autobiography
myportfolioinTheScholastic,Inc.ArtandWritingAwardsandwonthehighesthonor
ofTheGoldenKeyAward.Localartscollegesstartedtosendmescholarshipstoentice
metoattendtheirschools,butmyparentspushedmetocontinuemysearch.Iwasunsure
ofmypath,buttheartshadtaughtmetopreserverandmyintendedpathwouldbe
revealedifIjustkeptsearching.
However,thiswasnotmyparentsplan,beforeIcoulddecidewhereIwantedto
attendschoolIwassuddenlyexpectedtoattendaschoolthatIdidnotfeelconfident
couldteachmetheartsinthewaythatIwantedtolearn.Inthefallofmyfreshmanyear
ofcollegeIattendedtheUniversityofKansasandstruggledtofindmyplaceinalarge
universitythatdidnothaveanartsprogramwithafocusonmyphotographypassion.
Becauseofmyearlycollegecredits,theuniversitywaspressuringmetochooseamajor
inoneoftheirprogramssuchasperformanceartorindustrialdesign.Atthattime,I
traveledbacktomyphotographyteacherinhighschoolandtoldherofmydiscontent.
Thenextdayshemadeacalltothedeanoftheartsdepartment
attheUniversityof
Kansas
andwascalledoutofmydesigncoursetodiscussmyplaceintheprogram.
Itold
thedeanwhyIwasunhappywiththeprogramandhowIfeltmyneedswerenotbeing
metbythedegreestheyhadtooffer.Shelookedatmeandsaid,Maybethisisnotthe
rightplaceforyouandthatisnotabadthing,gofindaplacethatmakesyouhappy.
ThatweekendIdrovethethirtyminutestomyparentshousetotellthemabout
mymeetingandthatIneededtofindanotherplacetofinishmydegree.Withmy
mothersblessingIbeganmysearchaftertouringthecountryfromcoasttocoastI
landedonSavannahCollegeofArtandDesign.Withtheirstateoftheartfacilitiesand

Autobiography
focusontechniqueandpracticalbusinessacumenwithintheindustrymyparentsfelt
securethatIwouldgraduatewithagoodknowledgeofhowtobeasuccessful
entrepreneur.IwasecstaticthatIwouldfinallylearntheskillsneededtocreatemy
conceptualideastofullcapacity.
Ispedthroughthenexttwoandahalfyears,moneyhadbecomeaconcernwith
myparentsbackhomeandmydecisiontogotoaprivateartscollegewasnotadecision
thathelpedwiththefinances.Itookonajobasabicyclesecurityofficer,quitplaying
lacrosseforthecollege,andstayedinschooloverthesummertoensureIcouldgraduate
earlywithmydegreetodecreasemyburden.Iwassogratefulfortheopportunityto
finallyrealizemypotentialasaphotographerandanartist,butitwaswastedontheguilt
Ifeltforthestrugglesbackhome.Iworkedhard,butIlearnedthatwhenyouaredoing
whatyouloveitdoesnotfeellikework.
InNovember2007IgraduatedwithhonorsfromtheSavannahCollegeofArt
andDesignandmovedhometopursuemynewcareer.WithmydegreeIhadmany
optionsavailable:ShouldItraveltheworld,workforNationalGeographic,trytobecome
aphotoassistantwithagreatphotographerormyidolAnnieLebovitz,orbecomea
photographyproducerandworkbehindthescenes?Iwantedtochangetheworldwith
myimagesofmomentscapturedintime,revealinghumanity.
MyyoungenthusiasmanddrivetosucceedleadmetoChicagointhespringof
2008.Withmybelongingsinthebackofarentalcarand$1,000.00inmypocket,Iset
outtoworkforanartistrepresentativeinthecity.Iwassoexcitedtobepursuingmy
artisticpathandbecomeintegratedwithintheindustrythatIsoadmired.
Iquickly

Autobiography
realizedthattheindustrywasnotchangingtheworld,butbeingreplacedbythefearofa
decliningeconomy.Asphotographyjobswerebecomingscarce,aoncetightknit
communityofartistsbegantoturntheirbacksononeanother.
Byspring2009the
industrywasatastandstillandIneededtofindawaytosurvive.Onceagain,I
surrenderedtotheunknownandexplorednewpossibilitiesinthecity.Ilandedajob
workinginguestrelationsandoperations,notknowingwhatwasgoingtocomenext,but
beinggratefulthatIhademployment.
InthesepositionsIfoundmyselffrustratedbytheinabilitytobecreativeandlost
touchwithmypassionofbeinganartistandphotographer.TheyearsflewbyandIfound
myselfworkingasadailyoperatorinthefirstfoodtruckonthestreetsofChicago,
jugglinganewbusinessmodelastheonlyemployee.Asmyupbringinghadtaughtme,I
threwmyselffullforceintomy
work,pioneeringandblazinganewtrailforthe
restaurateursofChicago,thoughIcouldnotunderstandwhyIfeltsodefeated.
Istarted
brainstormingwaysthatIcouldstartgettingbacktothepassionsIleftbehindand
decidedthatteachingwasawayIcouldgivebackandalsofindmypassionagain.I
beganresearching
TeachforAmerica,TEOFL,
and
PeaceCorp
opportunities,butthe
universehadanotherplan.AsIjumpedoutofthefoodtruckonedayIlandedina
pothole,blowingoutmyankleanddivingintooneofthedeepestholesofmylifethus
far.
Iwasleftwithouttheabilitytousemyankleandhadtomaneuveraround
ChicagoonminimalincomeinabootforthenextsixmonthsasIstruggledtorecover.I
feverishlybegansearchingforadeskjobthatwouldtemporarilyseemethroughthe

Autobiography
toughspotIhadfoundmyselfinandwassuccessfulinfindingapositionworkingforan
officemanagementcompanybookingconferenceroomsforalargecorporate
headquarters.LittledidIknowthatIwasblindtotheunanticipatedpossibilitiesthatthis
positionhadtooffer.Withintwomonths,afterfeelingdefeatedforsolong,my
supervisorsawpotentialinmyabilitiesandpromotedmetotakeoveranewdepartment.
Iorchestratedateamofsixindividualsthatmadeupalargerteamofaneventualtwenty
fourandensuredthatwemettheneedsofnotonlytheemployeesofthislargecompany
butalsotheCEOandhisstaffdaily.ItwasapositionthatItookgreatprideinandfound
thatIlovedmanagingandteachingpeople.
Theextremededicationandcareofthispositionmirroredexactlywhatittakesto
beagreatteacher.
Iwroteguidelinesandproceduresfordailysuccessformultiple
positionswithinmydepartmentandthentaughtandimplementedprocedureswhile
ensuringdailymetricsofexcellencewerebeingmet.Myteambecamemyfriendsand
familyasIworkedendlesshourstoensureweweresuccessful.Ifoundmyownpotential
asaleaderthroughthesuccessesandstrugglesingrowingadepartmentthatthrived.
Ultimately,throughdeepreflection,IrealizedthatIcouldnotbetrulyhappyinthis
careerforeverandneededtogobacktomydeeplyseededcreativeroots.Thetimehad
comeformetotaketheleapandconsciouslychangemypath.
Ibravelyconfrontedmysupervisor,friendandconfidantandtoldherofmyplan
toleavetopursuemydreamofbecominganarteducator.Atfirst,shetoldmeIhadmade
aterribledecision,butasIdescribedmydreamtoherIstartedtocry.Ihaddedicated
threeyearsofmylifetoherandthesuccessofmydepartment,butIhadlostmyown

Autobiography
dreamandapieceofmyselfalongtheway.Attheendoftheconversationshesaidthat
shewishedthatshecouldhavebeenbraveenoughtotakealeapoffaithlikethisearlier
andthankedmeforthehardworkIhadgiventothecompany.Icompletedmytimeatthe
companyknowingthatmypursuitswouldleadmetoteachartandIdidnothavea
backupplan,thisisit.WhatIhavewanted,andnowaftertwoyearsofcompletely
dedicatingmyselftolearningartofeducation,artsadvocacy,andhowtofosteryoung
artists,Ihavemademydreamsareality.ElliotEisnerstatedthat,
Learninginthearts
requirestheabilityandawillingnesstosurrendertotheunanticipatedpossibilitiesofthe
workasitunfoldsandIcanconfidentlysaythatlifeleadstobeautifulunanticipated
possibilities.Withoutthecriticalthinkingandproblemsolvingskillsthattheartshave
givenme,IwouldnotbewhereIamtoday.Theseskillscarriedmethroughthecurvesin
thepaththatlifecarriesusalldownandsetmeapartfrommycompetitionineveryarena.
Thepathofanartist,asitunfolds,isneverdullandifwillingtosurrendertothe
possibilitiesisalifethatisfullofpromiseandpossibility.