Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee (USA) in April of 2011. In July I moved to Panama, planning to spend a year abroad here.
I came with $300 and a personal goal not to ask for any money from family to help. Three days in and I had spent all $300, but was the proud (volunteer in exchange for room and board) manager of a smoothie bar and cafe in Pedasi, Panama.
Fast forward to January and I am now up in Coronado, Panama, one of the most popular beach destinations for Panamanians and ex-pats alike. I work with photography and online marketing for a real estate company, but also have time to travel to the city, back to Pedasi and Playa Venao, or really to anywhere I want to take photos and meet people.
I have connections all over the country at this point, and my goal for the rest of my time here is to meet as many people as I can and get their stories.
I have eight years experience in photojournalism, but only in high school and university papers (I was a paid photographer and then photo editor at Vanderbilt). I also have been running a private photography business for three years doing portraits, event and real estate photography.
What one thing are you proud of so far in your 23 years?
How much I have traveled. I think everyone should do whatever they can to get outside of their comfort zones, and one of the best ways to do that is to travel. It’s less expensive than you think – just save up a bit first and live cheaply during the trip.
I have absolutely loved the people I’ve met and the random happenings I’ve experienced along the way. A teacher of mine once said that everyone should travel to more countries than their age. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m close.
What one piece of advice would you give you 10 year old self?
Stop being so defensive about everything. I’d give that same advice to my current self, too. Roll with things more, and admit when you’re wrong. Everything works out better that way, and you’ll be happier.
What challenges do you think you’ll face as you approach 100 years old?
Trying to keep an open mind. It’s already too easy to get stuck into my comfortable ways of doing things. I need to push myself to try new methods of solving a problem, having a conversation, and viewing the world.