The basics: I always order off of the kid's menu. I like to say I am sentimental, but everyone knows I am a hoarder. There is a good chance I am the most accident prone person you will ever meet, but it ends providing many laughs, and trips to the hospital. I love taking care of things and have the tendency to acquire cats, a lot of them. I laugh a lot, most of the times it is at myself. My voice reaches unparalleled decibels when I am excited or being defensive. Children always make my heart happy. I drink chocolate milk almost everyday and eat macaroni and cheese too often. And I cry a lot, but it is because I love big and care for people more than my heart can handle sometimes.
I grew up on Long Island and after 18 years left the only place I had called home, and moved to Gainesville, Florida to study photojournalism. But that was never part of my plan. There is not a good reason for why I ended up at UF, I was simply ignorant and loved palm trees, but I do know that it was never an accident, and it definitely was not the wrong choice.
From when I was 11 years old I told myself I was going to be a neonatal surgeon because that is how I thought you helped people. For years I watched doctors save my sister's life and knew that all I wanted was to give life to people. I wanted to see broken families be put back together; I wanted to hold the tiniest babies and tell them they were loved and that sickness does not define them; I wanted to find hope by having control of something. It didn't work.
Although I had always loved taking pictures, I told myself I loved science more; the truth was though I was never good at it and was never going to be. It was not until I failed anatomy and biology that I realized something needed to change.
I see now that photojournalism is what I am supposed to be doing and this is my way to save lives. We say that every person truly does have a story, but we only choose to tell some of them. All I want to do is give a voice to those who have been told their story wasn't worth sharing; I want to give a voice to the people who have been silenced. I want to tell people they are worthy of being fully known and fully loved, that their story is worthy of being told regardless of their circumstances. I want to tell people who have never been loved before that there is a mighty God who desperately loves them and promises they will never be forgotten. After spending time in Swaziland, Africa, and having countless filthy, dirty, precious little hand grabbing for my camera, I quickly realized there is no place I would rather be. After years for searching for hope, I finally found it.
My story may be untraditional and raw, it may be messy and it may not even be the story I would have written for myself, but it is the story of redemption. It is the story of a God who knew every part of me, and still chose the cross; a Father that gave absolutely everything knowing that He would have to wait years and years for me to even know Him. I cannot do any of this on my own and I am going to stop trying. The only thing I do know is that my camera, my words, my God, brings life and I am so lucky.