I still remember where I was when I received the news that I was selected to be a 2018 Karel Fellow. When I learned I would be working with the Afterschool Alliance, I instantly knew that this experience would mark the beginning of a very important chapter in my life, and I was ready for the challenge. I also couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

As a professional makeup artist, I am inspired by all things creative. My inspiration stems from colors, textures, places and most of all—people. After living in New York for five years, I’d reached all of my makeup goals and decided I wanted something more.

The best part of doing makeup is the conversation you have with your client. I’ve always loved listening to people share their stories, and decided the best way to combine all the things I loved was to be a journalist—specifically a beauty editor.

I had big dreams of creating my own publication, facilitating my own photoshoots, hiring my own team, and interviewing everyone involved to share their stories with the world. Less than a year after the inspiration hit, I was enrolled at Trinity Washington University as a journalism and media studies major, and started my own magazine, Color Story.

As I was designing my publication, I realized that I wanted to highlight the beauty, fashion and lifestyle for all people of all colors. In addition to sharing these empowering stories and beautiful images, I wanted to give back to my community. I believe that beauty truly shines from within, and I wanted my magazine to reflect that. I started researching ways to make the world better while remaining in the communications field, and discovered public interest communications. At first I’ll admit the concept was a bit confusing—what exactly did public interest communications mean?

After a couple hours of research I found that this field mirrored my interests perfectly. Let’s imagine public interest communications as a big family dinner. Half of the family members are the communicators—they are in public relations, advertising, journalism, and marketing. The other half are the researchers—sociologists, psychologists and scientists. At these amazing dinners, the communicators and researchers discuss important information, pack it up nicely, and figure out ways to share it with their community to promote lasting change. Sounds like the best party ever, doesn’t it?

Within the first week of my Fellowship, I noticed that my personal mission and the mission of my host organization had many parallels. My personal mission is to change the way the world views people all of colors by sharing positive images of all people and leveraging their stories. The Afterschool Alliance’s mission is to ensure that children have access to quality afterschool programs by advocating for more afterschool investments. What we both have in common is that we want to improve our communities and hopefully the world – as idealistic as that sounds.

The Afterschool Alliance is located downtown in one of the busiest parts of DC, and being able to call this home for the next two months is a blessing. Here we focus on policy, research, and field outreach to increase and maintain funding to keep children safe and engaged between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. In just one week, I have been able to use my graphic design and journalism skills in a real way.

In the first half of my experience as a Fellow, I designed an animation for our email blast and social media graphics, wrote two blog posts, attended several team meetings, and set up two interviews with Girls, Inc. and Girls Rock. As a Karel Fellow, I’ve quickly discovered that everyone I interact with is here to help me be the best version of myself.