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Final Story Project~Growing into Me

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Celinah Umaray

on 8 December 2014

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Transcript of Final Story Project~Growing into Me

Sunlight (insights I gained)
I will be presenting my story of what it took to grow into the person I am today to an audience of a successful lifestyle seminar that I was invited to speak at.
Planting the seed (where it all began)
I graduated from Florida Virtual School in June 2014 and although I knew I wanted to further my education, I was unsure of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. So I applied to Valencia Community College because it was the best choice for me to earn my general studies degree and give myself the time I needed to figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
Growing Pains (challenges I faced in the beginning)
My first semester at Valencia was an entirely new academic experience for me. The traditional classroom setting and rules were very different from the online system I was accustomed to. I was really intimidated at first, but I would come to find that my New Student Experience course would help me through every obstacle I faced along the way.
Taking root (beginning my career)
Water (my purpose and plan)
While I was studying and working towards getting my AA degree, I encountered many obstacles and made more than a few mistakes. But because I had to read this inspiring book called "Start Something that Matter" for my New Student Experience class, I was taught valuable lessons about what it takes to go after one's goals. These insights acted as the sunlight that I used during my education and beyond to grow and reach my potential.
After I graduated from the University of Florida with my degree in photojournalism and a few internships at small magazines and newspapers behind me, I applied and was accepted to a job as a photographer and writer for Dance Magazine. Because I had a strong dance background I was perfect for the job, and I was able to pose for self-shots as well. It was very challenging just starting out and would not have been able to do as well as I did, if I didn't carry everything I learned with me. I had to remember to really manage my time and stay inspired.
The fruits of my efforts (success and happiness)
I am now looking towards starting a new journey in my career where I will be traveling to remote countries, capturing images, and telling their stories to perhaps expose events or issues that instigate some sort of change for the better. I am driven to keep learning, growing and achieving my goals and I owe it to my New Student Experience class for giving me what I needed to be where I am today. I believe that we all can lead a successful and happy life if we truly apply ourselves and go after it!
Reaching higher (graduation and transfer)
As a result of my hard work at Valencia, I graduated with an AA degree in 2016. I then transferred to the University of Florida to earn my degree in photojournalism. I continued to apply the lessons I learned from my SLS class throughout the continuation of my education. During my studies, I even interviewed Craig Litten, a professional in the photojournalism field right her in Florida, to get some advice and gain some wisdom on how to be successful in my endeavors.
Growing into Me

Most importantly, this class provided me with the resources I needed to grow into who I am today:
Sunlight (insights I gained from the Starting Something that Matters book)
Nutrients (the discovery and application of the StrengthsQuest Assessments)
Water (the tools I used to find my purpose and plan my future education)
Nutrients (the discovery and application of StrengthsQuest)
I learned that whatever challenge I face, no matter how impossible it may seem, if I keep focusing on the passion behind my goals, I will be able to push through it.
I learned that the fears I have are natural, but if I let them take control of my life and stop me from moving forward I will end up with the regret of never knowing what could have been.
I learned to trust myself and work smart. I am bound to make mistakes along my journey, but if I want to be successful I must view those mistakes as an opportunity to grow and build confidence.
Another key tool this class provided me with was the StrengthsQuest Assessments, which represent the nutrients I needed to flourish. These assessments detected what my talents were and revealed them through my top five strengths:
1. Empathy
2. Ideation
3. Connectedness
4. Positivity
5. Strategy
StrengthsQuest guided me to find what career would be best suited for me and helped to realize how I can expand my talents. I used those strengths I developed to meet and exceed the demands of my daily life, education, career, and family.
One of the most important resources that this class encouraged me to develop was my purpose in life and my plan for the future. These served as the water that would help guide my roots deeper and extend my branches further.
By the end of the course, I determined that my purpose was to not only to become the best version of myself, but to travel the world exploring and sharing new perspectives through the visual arts and the written word. I then found my passion for photojournalism, which is a particular form of journalism that employs images in order to tell a story. I was especially insterested making the world a better place and using my camera and writing as a tool to illustrate the issues I care about.
So I created an education plan to direct my next steps in fulfilling that purpose. I mapped out what courses I needed to take each semester and made sure I stayed on track towards a successful graduation.
1. What type of education and training would you recommend for someone just starting out in this career?
“Normally, those entering a career as a (traditional newspaper) photojournalist get their degree in journalism with an emphasis in photojournalism. Usually late in their junior year or early in their senior year, they would take on a few photojournalist internships--the more the better.”

2. Are you passionate about what you do? And why?
“Yes, of course, passion is what drives me. In fact, if you’re not passionate about photography, I recommend another career. When I was a freshman in college, I took my first photo class and that was it. I knew then that photography was all I ever wanted to do with my life, and realized that I had a God-given talent in it.”

3. Do you feel a sense of connectedness and accomplishment from your career?
“Yes, you never get tired of seeing your work published in print. It’s also a great feeling when you get a good assignment, or a long-term project, and are able to finish that and do great work.”

4. What is the most important piece of advice you have for someone interested in a career like yours?
“Follow your heart and don’t listen to the naysayers. Take a chance. If you don’t, you will never know, and you will live with regret. Be fearless even when you’re afraid—everyone is afraid. And be original; don’t copy someone else’s work. Be inspired by it, gain ideas from itt. You are unique and nobody sees like you see.”

5. I want to travel the world telling stories through pictures, exposing issues, connecting people, and helping others. Do you have any guidance you can provide in those respects?
"Don’t wait. Get your degree and all the photography training you can and go. Study and learn cultures and make a decision where you want to go. It’s easier to do when you’re young and unattached. But, be realistic about it, have a plan, gain the experience and study cultures and travel."
This course played an unexpectedly key role in my success throughout my education and career. It helped me to develop and demonstrate the abilities to think clearly and creatively; communicate with others; and act purposefully.
Thank You!!
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