THE MARRIAGE OF PRODUCTIVITY AND SELF-AWARENESS IN THE MIDST OF A PANDEMIC #J4450

Hey, blog.

I didn’t have class today, which was somewhat nice because I got to sleep later than I am used to! So instead of breaking down what I learned today, I am going to share some ~personal reflection~ with y’all.

Yes, I am a journalist. But I am also a college student. I was settled into my routine, my sense of independence, and my ability to know myself and structure my environment in a way where I would be the most productive. I had my friends close, and spending time with them was a much-needed laugh and mental break from my work-related responsibilities.

The coronavirus has changed, well, all of that. And I have had a lot of conversations with people about how all they complain about is not having time, and now we have SO MUCH time, but they have suddenly become less productive. They don’t understand it and also feel guilty about it.

I am also going through this. I know when it is time to buckle down and grind out a project or a story, and I don’t have a problem doing so, but I know I am not being as productive as I can at school. I think a part of that was finding my new routine at home, in my high school bedroom that usually means I am on break. But it is a routine that is different and not as ideal as my one at school.

I think people struggle with cutting themselves some slack. This is a major world event that we are going through, and frankly, it sucks for everyone. So many people have it worse than others and I feel fortunate that I am not dealing with this issue closer to home, but it does impact everyone in some way. And the mourning or sadness or sudden decrease in productivity you experience is valid and normal! So I am trying to set boundaries for myself and attempting to be more actively aware of how I am feeling and what I need to stay sane while getting things done. And that’s something that has really helped me so far!

I have my next GA shift tomorrow and am working on some other stories, so I am hoping I will have a good week with that. See y’all soon!

HERE WE ARE#J4450

Hey blog.

I haven’t written in a while. Here’s why.

This time two weeks ago, I was still at Mizzou. I was still living with my friends, going about a somewhat normal life given the current circumstances. Then, my housing unit I lived in decided to close. I had 48 hours to get up and get out.

I am writing this from my house in Texas, where I will be living for the foreseeable future. I never would have thought I would be in this position right now, but so much is changing that at this point, anything could happen.

If I am being honest, I am struggling. I need to be social to keep my mental state relatively sane, so being cooped up in the house hundreds of miles away from my friends is effectively my worst nightmare. It feels weird doing college things in my high school bedroom, under my parent’s roof when I am used to a more independent lifestyle. I am mourning the loss of the rest of my junior year, which was going to be tough but at least we were in it together. I also know a lot of people that are being hit close to home by the disease, with a lot of friends and loved ones knowing someone who has COVID-19. That’s the worst part, knowing that someone I love is sad and not being able to do anything to comfort them.

I am also experiencing a sensation I have never felt before: wanting to turn off the news. I am a journalist, so I should want to be more up to date on COVID-19 than anyone, right? Well, wrong. And I feel disappointed in myself for feeling this way. I love journalism and its value now is more apparent than ever, but I am finding myself to be really overwhelmed with anxiety and sadness about our reality. And I’ve come to accept that is what makes me human, and knowing my limits of negative news consumption is something I have unfortunately been forced to test out recently.

I am adapting to the situation more and more every day, and there are a lot of silver linings. I can cook again (yay!), be with my family again, and spend more time walking around outside than usual. If staying home is the most difficult thing I am asked to do in my lifetime, I am lucky. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its challenges, but I am adjusting accordingly.

I have my first remote GA shift tomorrow and am feeling much better mentally about it than this time last week. I am taking this all one day at a time, and choosing to see the bright spots in a world of uncertainty.

To end this vulnerable post, I’ll insert a quote from my all-time favorite book / movie series.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

TAKE CARE OF OTHERS AND YOURSELF #J4450

Good afternoon blog.

Today in class, we discussed covering traumatic events and interviewing trauma victims. It was pretty heavy, to say the least, but we touched on a lot of points that I found to be quite helpful.

One point that really stuck out to me was our tendency to comfort someone who has witnessed or been a victim of a traumatic event. It is totally normal to (and I would argue that you should) want to comfort someone going through something horrible, but it isn’t appropriate to say you understand what the victim is going through. Our professor said it’s because trauma and normal grief are so different, and while they often exist together, they are not the same.

Another thing we talked about is how the repeated coverage of traumatic events can take a toll on journalists. Repeated exposure to graphic photographs, interviewing people going through horrible pain, etc. can impact your life in a big way. That’s why it is important to monitor your emotional state and step back or talk to someone if necessary.

We also talked about the tactic of covering mass shootings, and how there is a “no notoriety” campaign that is gaining popularity. This is because of the contagion effect that happens after intense coverage of a mass shooting including the shooter’s name, photograph, and detailed background of their life. In the no notoriety strategy, we would eliminate the publishing of the photograph and name of the perpetrator.

Intense coverage like this walks a fine line of informing the public and re-traumatizing the victims of a traumatic event such as mass shootings and big accidents. I think we need to evaluate the news value of publishing certain things and if it essential for the public to see a graphic photograph or other materials that might do more harm than good.

It was a tough topic today. But these hard discussions are essential for us to do our jobs well and serve our community as much as possible.

ELABORATE ON THAT, WOULD YOU?#J4450

Hey blog.

Happy Sunday. I hope it was filled with good weather and relaxation, as I know mine was.

This post is related to politics and journalism in a way, but it starts with something a little closer to home. This weekend, I was with my friends having a casual evening. We baked a cake, watched a movie, typical stuff. And then we started talking about politics.

It’s election season, so our ads are dominated by political campaigns and the headlines are filled with updates on Democratic candidates, new presidential policies, and more. It’s hard to miss and even harder not to think about.

Most of my friends are pretty similar in political views. We tend to migrate to the middle, some more right-leaning, and some more left-leaning. But as we were having a very mature discussion on political issues (yay us), we started talking about something that got me thinking about journalism.

As college students, we are very wrapped up in our own worlds. We try to stay up to date and informed on political issues, but sometimes it’s hard for us to really know what’s going on and even harder to know what candidate to vote for. That’s a void I think journalism can fill with the right approach.

Vox, for example, does a great job of putting out explanatory pieces on current issues in the world, political and beyond. They’re a great resource for me when I want to know more about something. I think those kinds of pieces would be especially helpful during election season because it would keep people up to date and also let us make our own choices about candidates based on a full explanation of both viewpoints on an issue. And this doesn’t just go for college kids. A lot of people want to be informed but are so daunted by the task of hunting for information about these issues that they choose to sit election season out. If journalism wants to encourage political participation, we need to do a better job of explaining all the avenues.

Journalism is supposed to inform the public, and I think an increase of explanatory journalism would provide the public with quality coverage on the stuff that matters as opposed to the constant horserace coverage we see today. I personally think that horserace coverage has its time, but needs a sisterly companion of explanation by its side every once and a while.

I’ll be keeping an eye out for more pieces like this, as I love them and think they’re a great resource for people who are trying to open their mind to different viewpoints.

A new week starts tomorrow. I’m hoping it’s a good one!

A CHANGE OF PACE / COMING TO THE END #J4450

Hi blog.

I have a little two-for-one post in store for y’all today.

The first topic I want to address is this was one of my off weeks as far as General Assignment shifts. I was in the newsroom a lot less because I am just so slammed with other coursework. But of course, I still was working on stories for Boomtown this week, just in different settings.

I appreciate having these weeks where I don’t work GA shifts because it gives me a mental break, which is really important in my life. I am a very intentional person when it comes to my mental state and my work to rest ratio. I am very productive for the most part, but it is also important for me to slow down sometimes to give my mind and my body the time it needs to refresh and recover.

I am feeling very replenished and ready to go into this week and work again!

The second topic I want to address is that I am finally approaching the end of my time working on Boomtown. This has been such a great experience for me to connect to people outside of my college bubble, and I am once again left in great appreciation of the people in this town.

I know I am young and still learning and am so grateful that these people have taken the time to sit down and talk to me about things they care about. I feel like this city has a real working relationship with the press, and I love that the Missourian can serve this community in that way.

I can’t wait for Boomtown to come out and to finally reveal my experiences writing all of my stories.

Have a wonderful week and I’ll check back in shortly!

2020 VISION (SORRY, HAD TO)

Sup blogosphere.

It’s 2020. It’s a new year, a new decade, and a fresh start for many of us. Personally, I am not looking for a blank slate, but to build on the life I built for myself in 2019.

I did a lot of cool things and experienced a ton of personal growth last year. I traveled across the country with the people I care about most, published my first big story at the Missourian while working as a staff photographer, and worked my butt off at an internship at D Magazine. As much fun (with some tears shed) that I had in my professional and personal life, I also prioritized myself and honoring my emotional state. I voiced my opinion more than ever, spoke up when I wanted something, and let myself feel things in their entirety, even the not so fun things. It made me a better-rounded person who was more capable of being open and caring for others.

Looking forward to this new year, I want to dive deeper into the trends I set in 2019. I don’t really believe in new year’s resolutions, but I do have a word that pretty much sums up my “2020 vision” (there it is baby!): nourish.

In order to grow, you need to nourish yourself. I plan on nourishing my new found love for different mediums, my desire for new experiences with people I love, and my body.

I’m aiming to transition to a plant-based diet (plant BASED people – ain’t no way a Texan is giving up queso and BBQ permanently) and haven’t eaten meat in a WHOPPING three days! Huge! I like the idea of a plant-based diet because it gives me the freedom to eat meat and dairy sometimes, just less. There’s no way I could go vegan, but I am interested in the health benefits of cutting down on animal product consumption and if that works for my body. I am even hoping to add a food photography section to my website because I LOVE food, and those who know me really know that. It deserves a presence here once I move into my house and have access to a kitchen!

I want to try new things and honor my desires, even if I am not good at them at first. My main thing with that is video. I discovered how much I liked it on spring break last year (that video is posted a few blog entries down) and I want to pursue it as a hobby. I often forget how much fun it is to be creative with my camera (and with my writing), and I don’t want to forget that. That’s what makes this whole thing fun, being able to do things on both sides.

I kind of started this whole “honoring my desires” trend off at the end of 2019 by chopping five inches off of my hair.

chippity chop

I have always wanted to go short but was too scared to do it. I guess hair and change don’t go together naturally for me. But I did it! And I have NO REGRETS at all. I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. 

And that’s the kind of energy I want in 2020! Going for it, full-sending it as the kids say. Because why not?

 

 

TACKLING A DIFFICULT TRUTH

Hi friends,

It’s finally time for me to write about something I have been working on for the past two months. To those who are close to me, thank you for listening to me cry and worry about this story and how others would interpret it. I hope this blog post gives you a little insight to where my brain was at during the process of investigating this topic and how I had to do a little soul searching of my own.

Let’s talk about faith.

I was raised in the United Methodist Church since I was little. I always felt like it was the right fit for me based on how open and accepting the church was and I loved all of the staff and people I made close relationships with. My experience in my youth group really lead to me coming to terms with what I believed and how I saw the world.

Fast forwarding to Christmas break, I was back at my home church for the usual Sunday service with my parents. One of the pastors brought up an event called the General Conference 2019, where the topics of LGBTQ people and ministry would be voted on. I was very taken aback to hear those words spoken aloud in a worship space. In my experience, the topic of human sexuality is never explicitly discussed through sermons, the reason being that so many people believe different things.

After I got back to school and the conference began, I was frequently checking the hashtags and browsing the chatter about what was happening. I even hopped on the live stream to listen to people debate about where the denomination should go as far as including LGBTQ persons.

When the decision came out that the Traditional Plan was passed, I couldn’t shake a feeling that came over me. It was like a thousand pound weight sitting on my chest and it wouldn’t let me sleep. Shortly after 3:00 a.m., I was determined to write a story about it.

Something about telling stories through words and photos is so cathartic to me. Some people find it difficult to sit down and read through an entire news article or a full documentary, but I can’t tear myself away. I feel so attached to the subjects for just a few moments: I cry with them. Granted I cry at the Extra Gum commercials (you know the ones I’m talking about. If you don’t look them up), but there is something so raw about realizing the humanity of other people that just makes my tear ducts get a little over-excited. I feel like I know them for just a second, and that’s what I want other people to feel when they read or look at work of mine.

I probably sent over thirty emails and facebook messages to people in the Columbia, Missouri area to try and talk to them about the decision and what it meant to them. To everyone that reached back out to me, thank you for pushing through the undoubtable pain and confusion you were feeling at the time. Craig, Jen, Kimberly, Madi and Jacob, the entire congregation of Hallsville UMC, MUMC, and Community United Methodist, thank you for letting me into your lives and your sanctuaries for a short moment. Your voices will hopefully echo across many towns, and be heard by people who are also struggling with this decision.

I want to say that I still love the Methodist church despite this decision made at the General Conference. I feel lucky to be a member of a faith where people can have different opinions.

Writing this article wasn’t about how I feel about the decision, but about how the decision was affecting the community I live in. There is real pain here. I think it’s easy for so many people to dismiss this issue as something that doesn’t affect them. But once you know someone that feels less than because of this, it breaks your heart in half. I don’t know a lot of people in the LGBTQ community, especially older adults. But as I got to know Kimberly and Jen it struck me how insanely great parents they were. They love their kids, they love each other, they want to make people happy and do good for the world. They remind me of my parents or my grandparents. And after talking to them about some of the struggles they have endured both internally and externally, I cried in my car on the way home.

There is also real hope here. Madi Denton and many of the other pastors I spoke to are gifted with patience and understanding, and promoting honest and open discussion over something I know Christians struggle with every day. This story goes way beyond my article and is something I know many congregations are grappling with.

My hope is that Methodism can overcome this. I know the God that I believe in is one that ultimately believes in love, and that love is for everyone. This story is not to shame anyone or present the Christian faith in a negative light. The Methodist church does amazing things for this world, maybe just as a denomination it has a little more soul searching as to what Jesus and John Wesley would tell them to do.

This entire experience is a prime example of what makes me feel fulfilled. I genuinely connected with my sources and gave people a way to share their voices with the rest of the community, and that’s what journalism is all about at the end of the day.

To close this absurdly long blog post I want to include a quote that I read somewhere in the literal hundreds of tweets I read about this decision.

“I would rather be excluded for who I include than included for who I exclude.”

Read my story here. A special thank you to Jeanne Abbott and Brian Kratzer, as well as my hero Liv Paggiarino for spending hours helping me edit this story.

That’s all for now!

“IT’S OKAY” – LEARNING TO BE A SPONGE

Everyone has someone they turn to when they’re in a tough spot. For me, that’s my dad.

My dad is nothing short of a hero and I am so fortunate to have a father figure that is my number one fan. Over the last twenty years he has also learned to be the best source of comfort to my restless and self-doubting soul. He always tells me the same thing when I believe I am miserably failing at my goals – “be a sponge.”

I am privileged enough to go to one of the best journalism schools in the world with thousands of talented students just as hungry for success as I am. While being surrounded by equally motivated peers is inspiring, it also puts a TON of pressure on you to be the best – all the time.

This statement obviously extends far beyond journalism and into just about every facet of life. But I think this constant standard of perfection can distract from the true purpose of college – to learn. A huge part of being a student or working your way through anything is making mistakes and learning from them. Absorbing those lessons and keeping them with you will make you a better photographer, writer, and human!

I lose sight of this all the time and just tend to get down on myself when I know I did a shoot that wasn’t my best, and my editors tell me they know I can do better. My habitually negative brain says “Why did you do that? Maybe you aren’t good enough to make it out there in the real world.”

Here’s a good example of this from Sunday. I was on shift at the Missourian (which is the hardest yet most amazing experience I have ever had so far), and I was having an off day. We have been experiencing some crazy winter weather up here in CoMo and I was “feature hunting”, aka exploring the city looking for good scenes to photograph. I saw the moments but the shots just weren’t as good as I had hoped, I needed to explore different angles, etc. My editors told me the shots were close, but not all the way there. I left for my final assignment, photographing a roller derby team in near by Hallsville, feeling discouraged.

When I showed up at the warehouse they practiced in, I was focused on working my angles and exploring that extra step to get the most visually interesting frame. I started out a little timid, but by the end I was having lively conversations with the members of the team and sprawling myself all over the floor to get that money shot. I came back with horribly dirty jeans and a really satisfied feeling – I had absorbed my failure from earlier shoots and turned it into something good. I was “sponge-ing”.

You will fail. I have failed so many times at so many things. But it will make you into a better shooter, better writer, better friend and better person. I know my dad is right when he says the best thing you can do is soak in everything happening around you, every lecture, every experience. The path that waits before you can only be navigated by trial and error, so let the error happen and try and appreciate it even when it hurts. Maybe we should listen to the successful people we look up to when they say failure is the first step to success.

(Thanks, dad.)

 

A 2019 INTENTION AND A STORY TO SHARE

WOAH. It has been a long time since I last blogged. But I am happy to say this year I will be back to some (semi) regularly scheduled programming.

The last semester has been, well, amazing and rough. I was taking challenging courses, getting used to living in my sorority house, and busy trying to figure my life out. So I told myself, “I don’t have time to write or focus on creativity. That comes second in my life, I am just too busy with more important things.”

Looking back on this I kind of want to slap myself. We live in a society that preaches self-care and I am a huge believer in that. But it’s not just about remembering to wash your face and eat your vegetables, it’s taking care of your soul as well. Being creative is a big part of me and I am going to try and prioritize caring about that part of me more. More photos, more blog posts, more adventures.

With all this being said, I will be shooting much more this semester since I will be on staff at the Columbia Missourian which I am PUMPED about. I am hoping that once I get back into my photo-mode I will be addicted and inspired again. I’ve definitely experienced “photographers block” these past few months, so I am looking forward to breaking out of that funk.

Life update = over. Now I would like to share a story I wrote in my news writing class that I am really proud of. Happy reading!

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See and Be Seen: Representation in Columbia’s Film Community

Nathan Wright works tirelessly to turn his stories of personal turmoil into artistic triumphs.

Wright is a local African American film maker who is set to graduate from MU next week. Since receiving his first camera for Christmas during his junior year, he has fallen in love with making movies. He wants to make it big but needs the channel to get there.

Although recent cultural movements have put a spotlight on the inequalities in film present for women and people of color, there are still areas for improvement. A 2016 study by the University of Southern California found that only 28.3 percent of speaking characters across various media platforms were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Columbia, Missouri is seeking to close this gap.

Pulling others up

Wright is encouraged by the amount of local and national attention representation is receiving. He is happy to see shows such as Atlanta created by Donald Glover, who have all black writers and black lead characters, breaking into new cultural territory.

“From a kid’s perspective growing up, you never see yourself in the main story line. Black people are always the supporting character,” Wright said. “It seeps into them, what they see is what they believe.”

Looking towards his future, he is pursuing a career in narrative film making. His goal as a producer and director is to provide a helping hand to others.

“Stories I tell will vary, but I want to pull people up to the top if I get there,” Wright said. “That’s the only way for people of color to get up there, is with connections.”

Although Columbia is just a stop on his trek to a bigger film scene, he appreciates the growing community of creatives here.

“It’s great and it’s underestimated. The support you get from such a tight knit community is great,” Wright said.

He has experienced success here, working at SXSW film festival in Austin through a local connection and receiving the grand prize in a visual art and design exhibition for one of his films.

“It was really validating to go through all that pain and receive that,” Wright said.

Over, under, and around

Stacy Woelfel, a documentary film professor and enthusiast, is encouraged by the growing representation in the films showcased at the local film festival True/False.

Woelfel teaches at the MU School of Journalism and is the director of the Johnathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism. He is hooked on the storytelling ability of cinematic nonfiction and cultivates the same passion in his students. Outside of his work at MU, he screens films for True/False. He has seen a sharp uptick in film submissions by minorities and women in the last few years and believes representation in the arts is an essential factor in accurate storytelling.

In the classroom, Woelfel teaches his students to represent people accurately and to creatively tell true stories about themselves and others. Showing his students work by people with different levels of education and socioeconomic statuses is just one of the ways he lets all voices be heard.

“The white male has been the center of media, and documentary journalism has given people the ability to go over, under and around that,” Woelfel said. “True/False puts a lot of effort into making sure different channels are highlighted.”

Inclusion is for everyone

Ragtag Cinema in downtown Columbia works closely with True/False, the two of them together making up Ragtag Film Society. Ragtag aims to show films that inspire conversation and display new perspectives.

Barbie Banks is the managing film director of Ragtag Cinema.  She believes representation is essential in the world of film and is dedicated to providing channels of dialogue on how film institutions can be more inclusive.

“Film creates empathy towards a larger issue you may never experience,” Banks said.

After working in film for years, Banks has a clear picture on what challenges exist for equal representation in film. One of these challenges is getting major film institutions who traditionally show mainstream movies by white men to support female filmmakers and filmmakers of color.

“Most people who go to the movies are women, but they don’t see themselves represented on screen… And men need to want to see women on film,” Banks said. “They don’t have that pull, we need bigger film industries to commit to the idea of representation.”

A seat at the table

Another challenge the film industry faces is showing films for different types of people while also being financially stable.

“We want to program films people will come to, but we also want to program new and innovative movies as well,” Banks said.

Banks has found that Ragtag’s donations spike when they showcase more diverse films, which helps balance the books if they don’t draw as large of an audience with a particular type of film.

Banks says the root of inclusion is the decisions being made behind the scenes. Ragtag picks the films they show with everyone’s opinion in mind.

“Make sure people are at the table. I always remember this quote, if you’re not invited to the table, pull up a chair,” Banks said.

New Territory

            Donna Kozloskie has also taken notice of Columbia’s shift towards inclusion. She is the director of programming at Citizen Jane, an all-female film festival hosted at Stephens College every year. This past year they received submissions from 24 countries.

A New Jersey native, she feels privileged to have grown up in a diverse community. She was shocked to see that the diversity she loved and knew at home effectively disappeared once she began her career in the arts.

“They were basically invisible,” Kozloskie said.

She is determined to widen the lens in her role at Citizen Jane. Her main goal is to represent all types of women in all different genres.

Kozloskie is encouraged by streaming services such as Netflix that are telling more diverse stories and providing more opportunities for women to break into previously unexplored areas of film. She believes it’s a necessity to give women a chance in all film types from horror to drama and beyond.

“People need to be able to recognize themselves on screen and know what their opportunities are. It’s not just for rich white boys anymore,” Kozloskie said. “We want to represent as many genres as possible to these directors.”

 

Real Person Photo

Hello all!

Over the next few weeks, I am taking a multimedia journalism course here at Mizzou. I am already loving it and will be posting several assignments on my blog for my instructors and peers to see. Feel free to read along and leave some comments along the way. I am very excited for this opportunity to learn and grow!

Real Person Photo – J2150

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Sam Mitten, 21, waits out the end of his shift at Broadway Diner Saturday, May 19, 2018. “I just passed my one year anniversary of working here,” Mitten said. “This is my first week on the day shift, I usually work from 10pm to 6am. One time a very drunk woman proposed to me, she tried to slip a ring on my finger and everything.. I had to decline of course.”
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Adelyn Swift (cq), 7, wanders around Lucky’s Market as her mother does her weekly grocery shopping Saturday, May 19, 2018. She filled her cart with vegetables, cheeses, and fruits as her mom took the majority of the haul.
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Jeremy Santiago, 21, serves ice cream during an early evening rush at Andy’s Frozen Custard Saturday, May 19, 2018. “I always try and serve with a smile.” He handled the crowd of about twenty people with grace and ease, cranking out concretes with gratitude and a laugh.

Onward and Upward: A Year in Review

If I had to pick one word to describe 2017 it would be nomadic.

It was filled with crucial changes, some pleasing and some painful. I met some of the most amazing and influential people that changed me in ways I didn’t think possible, and I grew away from negative forces in my life. Moving half way across the country caused me to be severed from my roots and challenged me with an environment drastically different than the one I had grown up in, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

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Mizzou has proven to be the best decision I have ever made. College (and being a kind of adult) is challenging, and self-discipline has become much more prevalent in my life than it was before I lived away from home. There are so many areas in which it is easy to lose yourself, and being on my own has taught me to stick to my guns and be true to myself through trial and error. You are who you are, and you can only alter yourself for so long until you drift back home. I made plenty of mistakes and I know I will make plenty more in the year to come, but those mistakes, along with some very loving and supportive friends, have taught me what it means to forgive yourself. We are only human and by very definition, we screw up. Learning to grant myself the same grace I would grant others was and is challenging, and I still have a long way to go in that department. This year will be a year of pushing myself to be better at this and many other things.

It was filled with many adventures with the best friends I could have ever asked for, and I am so lucky to have them in my life. I now know that God had them lined up to make their entrance right when I needed them most, and I am so excited to be taking on this next year (and many more after) with them.

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Moving forward, there are so many wonderful things I am taking with me in 2018. I have a girl gang that is strong as titanium, and it is so lovely to feel so secure in the people that surround you.

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I am fortunate enough to be pursuing my passion in my studies and am so excited to dive deeper into what it means to be a photojournalist, and I feel so lucky to have such supportive friends and parents cheering me on. I have no doubt that this year is going to be the best one yet, and am committing to loving myself and others more than I ever have before, and constantly challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday. Things will knock me down, but I am ready to stand up and move head-on into the rest of my life.

Thanks for the memories 2017. 2018, here is to many more. M-I-Z!

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