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Inspiring Stories from the West Side

The heart of our mission at VoyageChicago is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Chicago’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out the West Side’s rising stars below.

Tamara Wallace

I suffered from low self-esteem and weak confidence. I did not realize my worth and I knew it by letting people talk to me any type of way, I did not stand up for myself, and went through years of an abusive relationship. After I had two daughters, I realized that I cannot stop life from happening, that there may be a slight chance they may go through some of the things I’ve gone through. Read more>>

Sarai Bernice

I’m a Chicago born artist from South Shore who has been creating through various forms since I was a child. I come from a large family of creatives and art has always been valued and encouraged in my parents’ household. I create as a release from and an analysis of my life. My struggle with anxiety and ideas of identity fuel my works. Read more>>

Randy C. Bonds

I’ve always been a storyteller, and storytelling began for me through writing sketches and music. Then I transitioned into telling the stories of others as a teen journalist for True Star Teen Magazine in Chicago. While working for the magazine, I got to interview some of my favorite entertainers such as Usher, Columbus Short, Taraji P. Henson, Malik Yoba, and even got to do a press conference with Senator Barack Obama as he was running for president. Read more>>

Dannan Siano

I have been a physical therapist for 20+ years. Ten years ago when I had my first child it became clear to me how under served women were with respect to there health care. There was a lot of information on pregnancy and what to expect, but not much discussion or information given about what happens to your body after. When I had my first child you had one check up 6 weeks following delivery and cleared to resume all your previous activities. Read more>>

Eric Sawitoski

I’m a born-and-raised Chicago creator and studied design and photography in college. My first job after school was graphic design in a service bureau. The creative process started for me by doing things by hand- traditional paste-up work while also using a computer. To me- computers, cameras (film or digital) and even phones are just tools. Read more>>

Ted Grady

I began my career in catering after moving to Chicago from St. Louis, Mo. in 1992. I started working with J&L Catering at one of our corporate accounts, as a waiter. I’d been in fine dining before, so it was a great fit for me. It was a very structured environment and quite formal. I was pretty young, so I appreciated the opportunity very much. Read more>>

Rosina Neginsky

I started as being passionately in love with literature and arts. My university career began in France. I studied at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, visited museums, wrote poetry and taught at the Center of Russian Studies that belonged to Jesuits. When I began my doctoral degree at Paris-Sorbonne, I was invited to spend a year at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana as an exchange student. Why Champaign-Urbana? Read more>>

Steven Bryant

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from life’s journey is with a determined mindset, you can go to heights unseen. I walked into the doctor’s office with a smile on my face and walked out in tears. I was informed that not only was I morbidly obese, but I was subject to high blood pressure, pre – diabetic, and high cholesterol. Read more>>

Jess LeMaster

I started volunteering as the Gear Coordinator for Girls Rock! Chicago (GR!C), a non-profit that builds socially just community with girls, transgender youth, and gender non-conforming youth through music and social justice education in 2013. The first time I attended camp, I fell in love with what the organization was striving to achieve. Read more>>

Kate Stransky

I knew since I was a really young kid that I wanted to be an artist and that I probably wanted to do something with movies. I kind of grew up in the industry and much of my family works in the business. My father is an actor and when my parents divorced, my dad moved to Los Angeles. Read more>>

Faith Latorre

I professionally stand where I physically find myself sitting at this very moment- behind a computer screen. Most of my creative labor used to begin here. I would meticulously put mathematics and geometry into what I was creating, create a computer-generated blueprint for everything, and then bust it out into a painting or illustration. Read more>>

Sharron Gilty

My name is Sharron Gilty and I am a 26 year veteran of the beauty industry. Although I still love hair, fashion has always played a major roll in my life since I was a little girl. In 2014 I was experiencing some physical challenges and decided to take a beginning sewing class in November (which happened to be my birthday month). Read more>>

Sarah Beth Woods

I spent the formative years of my life living and teaching on the South West side of Chicago at a parochial school in a Black-middle class neighborhood. 98% of the students were African-American. I am German, my Grandmother was first-generation. The school had a highly revered music teacher, Dr. Cynthia Nunn. Read more>>

Jennifer Edmondson, Matthew Edmondson

We are Jen and Matt Edmondson and we are Laughing Frog Studio. While we originally started the business as a way to earn a little extra income to support the rising cost of raising our children (yes we are married), but it turned out to be so much more. Not only were also able to supplement child-rearing costs but we were able to exercise our creative muscles AND work together. Read more>>

Colson Hauser

As I graduated from Wheaton College in the winter of 2008, the job market was tight. Plenty of optimistic grads clamored for the few open positions during the valley of the great recession. After spending a few months as temp worker for a temp agency (an opportunity for which I am truly grateful), I decided to take a risk. Foremost Trading accepted new brokers willing to work on straight commission. Read more>>

Dan Doody

I started my company in Jan 1993, after having worked for two different corporations in the medical publishing business. The reasons for going out on my own were many, but the essential ones were work-life balance and trying to do something original and needed in a very crowded space. Read more>>

Jacqui Merhaut

During a home purge a few years back this unidentifiable bag showed up. Once open I recognized the Nikon within it, specifically her camera strap. We have pictures of her during our younger years, slung around my mother’s neck and front and center at every family event. Read more>>

Shilin Hora

Under tree canopy, tiny fingers are pealing back wet moss. My 8-year old’s self gently places it atop a 1 inch layer of soil, carefully landscaping a miniature garden inside a Ball canning jar. Algae growth on stems are poked in moss, end up, creating trees and bunches of lichen to resemble tiny world shrubs. Turned up acorn cupules are holding water for ponds and puddles. Read more>>

Kayla Vaughan

As a child, I was always told I had a large imagination. I loved art class, doing the DIYs from the TV show “Zoom”, directing the narrative while playing with my Bratz dolls, etc. Read more>>

Bernardino Echeverria

Well, my story isn’t very exciting, but it isn’t typical. I grew up with very poor parents, though that is not the case now, when I was growing up we had very little. Read more>>

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