During my Fellowship this summer, I met a woman who would change my life forever. Her name is Kate Hayward. She is a visual thinker and curriculum designer who uses visual learning to make complex ideas easier to digest. We connected on social media, and as a fellow renaissance woman, I told Kate about my struggles with being interested in so many things. In the middle of sharing, I decided to stop and just draw the way I felt—the same way Kate encourages her clients to sketch their feelings.
Once I completed my own drawing, I emailed it to Kate, who wrote back immediately saying, “The interesting thing is when you focus on all of those things, there’s just a small heart floating above you. But standing in front of your office as a Beauty Editor, you have two BIG hearts for eyes. Something to consider.”
She continued by asking me, “Do you know the concept of Ikigai? I wonder what would happen if you added the ideas to that Venn diagram, if it would tell you anything.” Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being,” and essentially indicates our life purpose. Naturally, I did it right away, and my results were beyond empowering. Filling out the diagram revealed that my ideal profession would have something to do with makeup and writing, my vocation is healing, my mission is peace and healing, and my passion—like Kate’s—is learning. I did this same exercise with young girls during my Fellowship, and the experience helped me understand the importance of visual learning and communications.
I spent my summer with The Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining quality after school programs for all children. As an intern, I got to visit real summer programs in DC, Maryland, and Virginia and wrote about them in our blog, The Afterschool Snack. The organization I connected with the most, was Girls Inc. DC. During my visit, I asked the girls to draw themselves in their dream job. The results were phenomenal. These girls were between the ages of 8 and 14, and they knew exactly what they wanted, which proved that the presence of these summer and after school programs, was essential to their success . Throughout the summer, they were exposed to female leaders in a variety of professional fields and thanks to that they were able to picture themselves in leadership positions.
When the girls finished drawing, they explained their sketches and the inspiration behind the careers they chose. A math teacher, a product development manager, a penetration tester for google, a cartoonist, a photographer, and a forensic scientist were among the career fields they chose.
This summer helped me redefine beauty and communications in my own words. I learned that beauty is deeper than appearance. Beauty is the presence of programs such as Girls Inc. DC which inspires girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Public Interest Communications is what enabled me to share these girls stories. Each of us has the power to change the way the world views people of color with visual storytelling, and I am forever grateful to Frank Karel for creating a space for us to share our stories with the world.