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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.

Vau’ve A. Davis

My story is shaped by perseverance, ambition, and tenacity. As a product of a single parent home, I overcame a lot to be “the first” and accomplish things that weren’t in my favor, statistically. My experiences have shaped much of my philanthropic work as well as my persistence in building a legacy. I feel that building a legacy is important for us to help others who may not have a blueprint for what works. Read more>>

Claire Doty

I have been in the performing arts since I was three years old, starting with dance. I danced for twelve years until I switched to theatre in high school. After a particularly rough production of Grapes of Wrath, I grew close to members of my high school’s stage crew and then, I fell in love with the program. There is something beautiful about an idea in my head physically manifesting myself on stage. Read more>>

Donnita Travis

I immediately started volunteering through my church, The Moody Church, with kids who lived in the nearby Cabrini-Green housing project, known around the world for its unprecedented poverty, drugs, and violence. From 1997 to 2001, I worked in advertising during the day and volunteered at nights on the weekends at my church with kids from Cabrini. Then, in 2001, I left advertising to start By The Hand Club For Kids with 16 kids from Cabrini-Green. Read more>>

Walter Santiago

My pronouns are He/Him. I began pursuing my entrepreneurial endeavors in 2012 in Manhattan and Northern New Jersey Metro (Passaic County) where I freelanced during my last two years of high school while living with my best friend Alexa, on our part-time jobs at Subway. Before 2012, I was constantly moving between the states and Puerto Rico in very unstable and low-income conditions to high-income families and just unbelievably inconsistent upbringing of a childhood. Read more>>

Armando Villegas

While attending one of my last classes at Chicago’s Artist Exchange I decided to put together an ensemble from what I thought were the brightest and available students from the class. The result was “Ace of Diamonds” a murder mystery thriller which I co-produced, directed and ended up having to act in. The experience left me feeling a little burned out from producing and directing because I overburdened myself but my passion for acting, not so easy. Read more>>

Kira Ryan

I have dreamed of being a model since I was a little girl. I was such a ham and absolutely loved being in front of the camera. During my high school and early college years I applied to a bunch of agencies but nothing ever happened because I’m “short” (5’4″) and most agencies required 5’7″ or 5’9″ at least. I would keep trying off and on for years but kept getting discouraged. Read more>>

Lauren and Sidne

Our story started back in 2011 when I (Lauren) was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. On my first day of chemo, my best friend and co-founder (Sidne) gave me a pair of 5-inch, glittery, bright blue, spike-covered heels. From that moment on, those shoes became my ‘chemo shoes.’ Because in those shoes I knew I was going to kick cancer’s ass, which is exactly what I did. Read more>>


I’ve been a harpist longer than I haven’t and that’s always going to be a fact. It’s so much a part of the air I breathe at this point that I can’t even begin to imagine life without this instrument. It was love at first sight for me, the first time I saw a harp performance I was eight years old and that was all it took for the obsession to begin. Read more>>

Natalie Cole

My creativity has been pass down from generation and has grown into a love that is truly strong. I founded ColeStyle in 2014 to establish, help create and bring out the beauty in everyone, helping transform clients into the best portrayal of themselves. I received multiple certifications in Makeup Artistry and one also Fashion Styling, I hope to help bring my client’s radiant beauty and personal style to life. Read more>>

Kelly Miller

I knew I belonged in the beauty industry. My parents encouraged me to receive my Bachelor’s degree before pursuing it as a career. I graduated from the University of Illinois in 2014 with a degree in Advertising, and soon after, enrolled in cosmetology school. I developed a great interest in color and makeup. Read more>>

Paula Henderson

By contrast, in the series Groundwork(s), I make the patterns left on ground surfaces from our movement the basis of abstract compositions that acknowledge the beauty of formal elements of color, line, and composition while simultaneously working beyond those formal elements to connect to thoughts of our shared space, our collectivity and more. Read more>>

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