Category Archives: Who’s in the Spotlight?

Employee Spotlight: Artist Dave Seay

Artist Dave Seay
Artist Dave Seay

Artist Dave Seay has been illustrating for 45 years and has spent almost 25 of those years at MultiAd, now LSA. Dave was inspired by the artwork in MAD magazine at an early age and spent many hours studying it and the variety of styles used. Dave feels that many of these styles have blended into his own illustration style.

img_7776

Here at LSA, Dave’s illustrations are mostly cartoon-like with the occasional realistic illustration throw in. He changes his style to suit the illustration he has been assigned to create. Sometimes, this means using looser or tighter lines, other times, a crosshatching technique, and so forth. Dave begins the illustration process with colored pencils or fine-lined markers.untitled-4 After he creates the base of the piece, he adds in watercolor before the piece is scanned and finalized in Adobe Photoshop. Occasionally, Dave creates the line illustration and then has it scanned in to colorize it in Adobe Illustrator. Dave’s advice to aspiring artists is to “learn to draw first and learn perspective. Study Illustrator and the styles you admire, past and present, and watch how people react to your art. You’ll learn if you’re connecting with them. Should anyone say, ‘That’s interesting,’ start over.”

untitledOutside of work, Dave likes to spend time at his studio where he enjoys painting oil or acrylic landscapes. “There’s no deadline,” Dave says, “so it’s all about quality.” He also loves to spend time with his wife, three kids, and three grandsons.

Thank you Dave for all of your hard work and dedication to the LSA team!

To search for all of Dave Seay’s creative illustrations, go to CreativeOutlet.com and type d100 in the search bar.untitled-3

Employee Spotlight: Designer Angi Burns

untitled-2  Angi Burns began her career as an in-house illustrator in 1980 and was one of the first to learn the beta program Picasso. Our company had the privilege of serving as the test site for the program, which would later be developed into Adobe Illustrator. Angi has been illustrating since childhood, sketching models from newspaper department store ads for fun, which is what jump-started her creative spark. While attending college, Angi worked in the Art Department designing school flyers for various department events.

untitled-3Angi was widely influenced by her father, who began working as an illustrator at MultiAd (now LSA) when it opened in 1945. She would often venture into his studio to see what he was up to, and her style is mostly realistic like his, though when the assignment calls for it, she has been known to do some cartoon styles with a bit of realistic touch. Angi always has her eye out for new contemporary styles. If she likes the look of something, she will try it out on paper and add a bit of her own style to it.

When creating an illustration, Angi takes a couple of approaches. Sometimes, she begins with a sketch, which she scans into the computer. From there, she finishes the piece digitally in Adobe programs. More often than not, she finds a reference online, such as a photo, and uses it as a resource to illustrate from in Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. “I love to look at a photo, and sometimes I squint to focus in on the shadows or highlights,” she states. Angi enjoys recreating pieces in two or three tones for interest but also loves how the blending capabilities in Adobe Illustrator can create a more realistic look. When asked for advice to aspiring artists, she states, “If you have an interest in drawing, don’t ever stop developing it. Creating a piece of art and constantly improving on new styles is very gratifying.”

untitled-4
Angi and her son

Outside of work, Angi enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and working in the garden.

angidaughter
Angi and her daughter

She also enjoys volunteering her artistic talents for her parish and the Heading Avenue convent. Just as her father influenced her, Angi has influenced her son. He loves to draw and has been doing so since childhood. They have had many chats about art, and he loves to share his latest creations with her.

We thank Angi for taking the time to tell us how she creates her wonderful pieces of art and letting us into her creative world. We’re thrilled to have her working on our team!

Employee Spotlight: Marketing Coordinator Kirsten Krupps

headshotaug2016
Marketing Coordinator Kirsten Krupps

LSA would like to welcome the newest member to the team, Kirsten Krupps! She has been the marketing coordinator for just under two months now with 6 years of marketing experience under her belt. Everyone is very excited to have her here!

14021579_1163603630400916_698040272636122416_n
Kirsten and her two dogs

Since the company has recently been acquired by LSA, Kirsten is excited about lots of things involving her new position and the new company, as she enjoys focusing on small businesses marketing to local markets. Kirsten is eager to see the upcoming positive changes play out with the company. She’s also been developing new marketing ideas and is happy that they have been widely accepted by the other employees. When speaking of long-term goals, Kirsten looks to gain more experience in the marketing field and feels that there will be plenty of opportunity at LSA.

A typical day for Kirsten involves keeping up-to-date on marketing and social media news, maintaining the social media sites for Creative Outlet and Recas, and completing various projects for LSA.

9174_10156526026170145_6759543346341823244_n

Kirsten also runs her own photography business on nights and weekends. She primarily takes photos of pets, weddings, and concerts. Aside from working, she enjoys taking her two wiener dogs to the park, spending time with friends and family, and attending lots of local rock concerts.

We’re excited to have you on the team, Kirsten!

Employee Spotlight: Marketing Intern, Jenna Niedzwiedz

IMG_9506
Marketing Intern Jenna Niedzwiedz

Jenna Niedzwiedz is a junior at Bradley University. She is pursuing a degree in public relations as well as a minor in marketing. Jenna is one of our marketing interns and has been working with us since March.

13000164_1155401137826272_8300151168557119778_n
Jenna and her dog, Maverick

Gaining experience in leadership and service is something very important to Jenna. She has been an exec board member of the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega (APO) since fall of 2015. She joined in the first weeks of her freshman year to get more involved with the Peoria community and volunteering. She liked that it allows her to be a participating member of Peoria, and not just Bradley.

Jenna also likes to spend time with her parents, two younger sisters, and Klee Kai puppy named Maverick. She and her family like to spend time outdoors: particularly kayaking and hiking.

IMG_9505
Jenna with her ecocentrism portfolio

When she isn’t busy with work or school, Jenna creates art. Her favorite mediums to use are watercolors with ink and colored pencils. One of her proudest works is a twelve piece collection on pollution and ecocentrism, something that she is very passionate about. The inspiration for the work was brought on by the multiple distopian movies that were being released at the time. She was excited to create several different pieces that would all convey one idea. Jenna says that pursuing art has helped her to learn about taking and giving criticism respectfully as well as tweak her creativity to reach a specific audience: two traits that she has found transfer very well into the real world.

Thanks for joining our team, Jenna! We’re excited to have you.

Employee Spotlight: Recas Business Development Manager, Phil Harris

Phil Pic 1
Phil Harris

Phil Harris has been working with Recas for 20+ years and counting. Phil work as a business development manager while also regularly doing working on on-going items such as training and webinars. His total work in sales, “in some capacity,” he says, is 25 years. Phil is a dedicated employee who loves working with customers.

A typical day for Phil involves calling on customers and attending to their questions and needs. He’s also involved in co-op training, in any one of the eight different seminars offered from Recas, as well as proactively contacting clients with sales opportunities. Phil is very friendly and welcoming around the office, and is just as pleasant off the job!

Phil_Fiat (1)
Phil in his snazzy red Fiat!

Phil wants his customers to feel like they can always call on him to solve their problems quickly, efficiently and professionally. He loves interacting with customers and providing solutions to any problem that may present itself. What he likes most about working in customer service is the fact that even after 20 years in the field, there is always something new to take on. Phil has enjoyed working with all of the great people he has met along the way.

Outside of work, Phil is a people person who enjoys helping out others and spending time with family and friends. He has two lovely daughters and has coached both of them in volleyball. He has two dogs and swears he is NOT getting any more, but we don’t believe him. He also helps out regularly with the fundraisers for his church and the Family House of Peoria. Some of his favorite pastimes include cooking and entertaining family and friends. He also loves sports—the Chicago Cubs, Chicago Bears and Illini, of course—and likes to fish and golf in his free time.

New Family Pic
Phil and his two daughters.
George
Phil’s dog, George

We are so happy to feature Phil’s story in the spotlight this month. Thanks for your hard work, Phil, and for making so many of our customers smile.

Phil and Daughters
Phil and his daughters

 

Employee Spotlight: Recas Product Manager, Ryan Stevenson

stevenson_ryanIn the spotlight this month is Ryan Stevenson, Recas product manager and a 16-year veteran of Ad-Builder. Ryan has been in his current position for 12 years and served as a Recas account manager prior to that. When talking to Ryan, it doesn’t take long to see how much he genuinely loves life in and outside of Recas & co-op.

What Ryan enjoys most about working for Ad-Builder is the camaraderie. The team here feels like family to him. A typical workday for Ryan includes tackling daily product procedures, as well as meeting with his team to address service and product concerns. The bulk of Ryan’s workday is spent in the planning, development and execution of the Recas product. He loves being able to strategize, build and implement a product that can have an immediate impact on those in the media that utilize it. “Nothing is more fulfilling for me as a product manager,” he states, “than when users claim success from the product.”

Part of the development of the product, which Ryan truly enjoys, entails speaking to clients who utilize Ad-Builder products and services. He feels strongly that if you are open to suggestion and listen closely enough, you can take away something from every client conversation you experience, which you can use to improve your product. Ryan wants his clients to feel like their opinions matter and what they say will have an influence in the product and its development. “If your product is not a reflection of your clients’ needs,” he adds, “then you probably weren’t listening to them to begin with. Without respecting and valuing our customers’ input, we would have never survived as a product that has served and continues to serve as a leader in marketplace for over 30 years.”

Outside of work, Ryan likes to spend quality time with his family, friends and dogs, Bacchus and Carley. He and his wife, Melissa, just celebrated their 10th anniversary. They have two children, a son named Aidan and a newborn, Remy, both of whom Ryan feels are “pretty much perfect.” Outside of that, Ryan enjoys reading, watching films, listening to and playing music, and watching and playing sports. His favorite teams are the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Lions. Ultimately, Ryan would like to be known as a good, compassionate man who strives to be the best husband and father he can.

Thank you, Ryan, for opening up to us in the Employee Spotlight this month. We couldn’t imagine the Recas product without you. Thanks for all you do and your hard work and dedication to the company.

Who’s in the Spotlight? Ad-Builder Team member Jennifer Clough!

As one of the newest members of the Ad-Builder Team, Jennifer Clough has shown great ambition, promise and drive since arriving at Ad-Builder in January 2014 as a business development manager for Creative Outlet. She loves working in sales, interacting with and getting to know her customers, before heading home at the end of the day to spend quality time with her family.

Jennifer Clough Portrait
Jennifer Clough

Jennifer has been working in sales for more than 15 years, which has provided her with a rich background in the industry. She has previous experience in different sales positions, such as retail business-to-business, marketing and customer service. Most recently, she worked for a large daily newspaper as a multi media account executive and in wireless as a consultant, both of which helped increase her technological skills and knowledge. Being active in Business Network International (BNI) has cultivated partnerships and a referral-based sales approach. “There is no better compliment than a referral,” Jennifer states. “It shows I helped a customer find what they most needed.” Jennifer’s broad background has placed her in a unique position to offer creative solutions to customers to benefit their needs and efforts.

My son Dylan
Jennifer’s son, Dylan

Inside Jennifer’s office area on her desk, you will find a large photo of her son, Dylan, smiling big! Dylan, who is 12 years old, is Jennifer’s life! Outside of work, you can usually find her at hockey practices and games, where Dylan plays goalie and she served as team manager last year. Jennifer admits hockey can be time consuming and expensive, but Dylan and his dreams are worth every penny. “It is his passion, so I want to make it happen for him, to make his dreams come true as best as I can,” she says. The two also enjoy other sports, like football and baseball, which can create a little rivalry in the house, Cubs vs. Cardinals for example, and keeps things interesting. Band and music are important to the family as well. Jennifer says she is blessed to have such a close family. Her parents, Bob and Renae, have been married for more than 40 years and are Jennifer’s examples of how to be great parents and a good person. Her sister, Michelle, also works in the same building as a client services manager for Kwikee and loves it as much as she does. The two sisters are also best friends. Family comes first for Jennifer, and life outside of work drives her energy and happiness.

Dylan Hockey
Dylan in his hockey gear

We are so grateful to Jennifer for opening up to us this month and giving us insight into her life here and outside of Ad-Builder. We’re glad to have yet another dedicated member on the team who genuinely wants to make connections with customers. Thanks, Jennifer!

My Family
Jennifer and her family

 

Who’s in the Spotlight? Senior UI Developer John Ingles!

Meet John Ingles, MultiAd’s Senior UI Developer and super talented creative. John has been with us for a little over 27 years, ever since he finished college, and he looks forward to many more! He enjoys expressing his creativity using many different mediums, like drawing on the chalk wall in MultiAd’s conference room or sculpting. Learn more about John, his work at MultiAd and check out some of his excellent creative works in this month’s Employee Spotlight!

1. What’s a typical day at work like for you? What are some of your daily tasks?

Well, currently, my typical work day wouldn’t make a very good movie script. I spend most of my time making UI updates to MultiAd’s internal and client sites. Primarily, html and javascript. Zzz..z.z..z..z…. Huh, what.. oh, was that you or me? Anyway, I, as well as the whole IT group, are continually keeping our sites up to speed with the constantly changing data requirements of our clients.

2. What are some challenges that you’ve faced at work, and how did you overcome them?

Modifying existing sites to accommodate requirements of evolving data and new clients can be challenging. Changing the same UI features and code is not necessarily a creative process. So, staying focused and motivated can be difficult at times. So, spending lunch and break times drawing on the conference room chalk wall gives me a chance to use the right side of my brain.

I also work on projects outside of my full-time job to push my skills beyond what I’m able to do during the day. Illinois Prep Scores is an app that I developed with a couple friends. It is an app for getting live high school football scores for all of the teams in Illinois, via crowd-sourcing. If you follow high school football in Illinois, check it out here, illinoisprepscores.com.

BlackboardWall
Drawing on the conference room chalk wall is one of the ways John keeps on task at work.

3. What are some personal and professional goals that you have for this year?

Professionally, I am always trying to keep up with technology changes related to UI design for web and devices. It can be quite challenging as it is constantly evolving.

Well, I have several personal goals. I have recently started to learn to play guitar which has given me a new level of respect for those who I have listened to for years. Create more art… drawing, painting, carving, chalk art! Spend more time with family. Time is moving pretty fast, you’ve got to take some time to look around every once in awhile.

4. Tell us a little about yourself!

Well, born in Peoria and lived there until I was 12 when Mom and Dad packed up me and my sister, Julie, up in the 1974 Ford Galaxie 500 station wagon and moved us to “the country” community of Lake Camelot to get me out of the trouble I was quickly finding myself in. I later learned to drive in that beast of a wagon which was challenging. See interesting fact question below. Thanks to their decision, I spent summers fishing, canoeing, swimming, exploring the surrounding woods, playing baseball and eventually, was a lifeguard and swim instructor.

BabyGroot_MagicSculpt
Baby Groot, created using MagicSculp!

I went to Illini Bluffs where I found a love for wrestling and met coach Pat O’Conner. He was an incredible man and I credit him with teaching me the value of hard work and dedication. I also found that I really liked art class where I was able to create things. I wasn’t the best student in the world as my art teacher Mrs. Burlison could attest to. But, there was a field trip that she took our class on to a little art and printing company that set the direction for the rest of my life to this point. That company, Multi-ad Services, Inc. Thanks Mrs. B.!

When I saw what was being done at this place, I had that, “Ah Ha!”, moment. I said to myself you mean you can get paid for drawing?! I’m in and I want to work here. So, after high school, I went to Illinois Central College for graphic design and immediately after graduating applied at Multi-ad, and only at Multi-Ad. I was positive that this place was the place for me and somehow just knew I would find a way in. I made a nuisance of myself to the keylining director at the time, Lora Volkert and after a few weeks, she hired me as a keyliner.

Over the past 27 years, I have been a keyliner, illustrator, interactive media designer/developer, web designer, application developer and currently UI developer. I met my wife here. I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the most caring and creative people I know and consider many to be my closest of friends. I hope to be here for many more.

When I have time, I really enjoy creating art with just about any medium, chalks, acrylics, Magic Sculpt, sand, wood, pencil, water color and let’s not forget digital art, especially vector based. I love it all. I have a CNC machine called a CarveWright (www.carvewright.com) which allow me carve material like wood and sheets of pvc using my digital art. It’s a pretty cool little machine. The Barclays sign was carved on the a PVC material using the machine then hand painted. The baby Groot was made with MagicSculp (www.magicsculp.com), a two part epoxy “clay”. You should check this stuff out. Believe me, their website is not reflective of how cool their product is!

CustomSign_CarveWright_and_MagicSculpt

Last note, about 4 years ago I became involved with a great bunch of people referred to as The Walldogs. The Walldogs are a group of artists, muralist, and sign painters that gather together once a year, at least here in the Midwest, to paint 10-20 murals in one town over a 5 day period. The artist come from all around the world to work together to promote the art of murals, share their methods with other artists while helping the town boost tourism. I could go on and on about this group, but I will share this link and encourage you to check out a town they have been through or better yet an upcoming event! www.thewalldogs.com

5. What’s your family like? Do you have any children or pets?

We are a pretty creative family. My wife, a self employed graphic designer, and I have been married for 24 years. I pretty sure the house would just implode on us if it wasn’t for her. She pretty much does it all. I can’t say enough, so, I’ll leave it at that.

My daughter is a senior in the Industrial Design program at Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and is a really talented illustrator. My son is a freshman at Illinois Central College and has a creative imagination that I sure will lead him to a successful artistic career of some sort. It is fun to watch them come into their own. The future looks bright for these two.

Any chance to play a board game with the family is always a great time. Monopoly, Clue, SmashUp and Who Killed Dr. Lucky are some of our favorites.

We have dog, Coco. She’s definitely the princess of the house and missing half of her front teeth, she looks like a jack-o-lantern.

6. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

Teleportation. Just think of all of the places you could visit if you could instantly be there!

Guns_PaintMod
Another one of John’s awesome creations!

7. What’s one fun fact about yourself that not a lot of people would know?

Just one! Hmm..

I lied about my height when I get my first driver’s license. I said I was 5 foot tall when I was only 4 foot 11 inches. Yes, when I was 16, I was under 5 foot tall. I eventually grew to almost 6 foot 2 inches by the time I was 22. Though, I’m currently only 6’ 1”… hmm.. getting old is not agreeing with me.

Bonus fact: I won a staring contest against Captain America. Yes, THE Captain America. At least he said he was. See the photo.

Triple-dog-dare bonus: When I was a kid, usually during summer break, I would sneak into the garage to eat dog food when I got hungry because I never wanted to take the chance that my mom would have something that would prevent me from being able to go right back outside to play. No ill effects from it unless you consider driving with my head out the window and tearing the stuffing out of every ill effects.

CaptAmericaStaredown
John having an epic stare-down with Captain America himself!

8. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

An otter… Uhh.. who wouldn’t want to be an otter?

9. Tell us your best joke!

Not my best, but on topic…

What’s red and smells like blue paint? Red paint.

10. Since Halloween is coming up… do you have a favorite Halloween costume that you’ve worn in the past? Do you plan on dressing up this year?

I wish I had a better answer for this one. I love halloween, but seldom have/take the time to dress up. How about favorite halloween/horror movies. Hocus Pocus, Zombieland, Army of Darkness, any Hitchcock movie and, of course, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.

11. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?

Good ol’ homemade popcorn ball and Reese’s pumpkin shaped Peanut Butter cups are a close second.

HalloweenSign_CarveWright

Who’s in the Spotlight? Account Manager Sara McNamara!

Meet Sara McNamara, MultiAd’s newest Account Manager for Recas! She’s been working with us since November 2011, where she began as an intern. Now, she enjoys her new position by getting to know new people and helping make a difference with clients. Sara loves to keep herself busy outside of work through crafting activities and volunteering.  In fact, recently, she just returned from Vancouver! Learn more about Sara, her work and her travels in this week’s Spotlight!

My family on top of grouse mountain
Sara (far left) and her family in on top of Grouse Mountain

You’ve been recently promoted, congratulations! What is your new role at MultiAd?

Thank you very much! I have recently moved from Recas Project Manager to Account Manager. Essentially now I get to work directly with our clients instead of just doing projects for them. It has been great to finally put voices to names and not just see our clients as a media but as humans with various interests and passions.

In just the short amount of time I have been in this role, I have already met some incredible people around the country! It has been really benefited me to start as an intern and work my way up. I know Recas quite well at this point and now I get to help our clients work through their questions and navigate around the new site. As an intern, I was never really shown how our information gets used and now I see it truly makes a difference in business and in people’s lives. Every day I continue to learn new things and better ways to present this information, I never really know who I will help that day.

What’s a typical day like for you?

That is an excellent question, and honestly I can’t answer that yet. I am still learning what is the best way to manage my time. I have a lot of freedom in this position and my sole focus is always helping our clients out the best way I can. I respond to inbound requests and questions via email and phone calls. I also make outbound phone calls to check in with our clients to make sure they understand the product and the process of co-op. We pride ourselves in service and I want to make sure they know they can reach out to us with any of their needs. The transition to our new site has been a gradual process so I can help walk our clients through that as well. The next adventure of this new position I have been preparing for is leading monthly webinars. So to recap, my day is focused on helping all our clients as best I can in the time allotted. It has been a transition from my last position for sure, but one I gladly accept.

What’s your favorite part about your job? Do you have a fun story to tell?

Right now, I think my favorite part about my job is knowing I make a difference in people’s lives. I graciously accept people’s thank yous. I try to be a patient, supportive voice for our clients. I understand they are rushed and that environment isn’t always supportive. It is also exciting to meet people all over the country. I am impressed with how open some people are about sharing their lives with me. It makes coming to work more enjoyable.

As far as fun stories, I am not sure I can pinpoint just one.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

That would be my pleasure, I am a simple girl. I grew up in a small town with a population of 2,500 about an hour from Peoria and two hours from Chicago. This is a farming community so it was not uncommon to hear conversations about how the crops are doing, how the weather keeps changing, or how everyone some how knows everyone. Growing up in a place like that was wonderful, but I don’t go home as much as I used to.

Peoria has been my current address since I went to Bradley University for Communications. Growing up I remember thinking Peoria was a massive city, but now that I live here for several years, I see it really isn’t that big. It is certainly not Chicago, by any means. The small town feel is where I feel the most comfortable so I won’t be able to handle living in a city much bigger than Peoria.

Also, my co-workers can’t seem to keep tabs on me outside of work, where I am off to next or who I am hanging out with. Living in the same area I went to school has certainly help keep me busy. I have quite a few friends that are in the area still or come back and visit periodically. My volunteer work keeps me on the go as well. The church has helped my social life being in multiple small groups and helping in the nursery and apart of a charity organization. With the assistance of a few co-workers we have started a craft group and we meet once a month during our lunch hour. Needless to say I like doing different things but starting to wonder how much longer I can keep up this pace.

What’s your family like? Do you have any pets?

My mom has worked for the school district back home my whole life. My dad retired from CAT a few years back and works odd jobs helping out people and driving a bus for the school district. My parents are still living in the house I grew up in and I hope to inherit one day. They have two dogs, an eight year old dachshund/terrier mix and a two year old dalmatian/pointer mix. They keep my parents quite busy. Since I moved out of the house, my parent have picked up golfing as their exercise and social activity. To be honest, I don’t think I will ever understand the concept of that game. Dogs-Playing in the house

My sister is four years older than me and one of the smartest people I know. She was the type of child that grew up watching TLC, Discovery, and the History Channel when it was still educational. She is currently getting her Doctorate in Psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. New Zealand is where she is setting out to move as soon as she gets a job there. So the annual trip out to visit my sister will make Vancouver feel like a hop, skip and a jump compared to the trip to New Zealand.

I still have a lot of extended family in the area, and it was great to grow up with family so close together. I was spoiled that’s for sure.

Regarding your question about pets, sadly, I don’t have any pets of my own currently for a few reasons, I don’t make enough money to take care of them long term, my life is not stable enough to own pets, plus it’s not allowed in my lease. It is not uncommon to leave for work in the morning and not come back to my apartment until 10:00 at night. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to own pets, but I am enjoying my freedom too much right now.

What are some personal and/or professional goals that you have for this year?

Oh, another great question. I have declared 2015 the year of “ME” I have been investing more time, energy, and money into myself then I ever have before. It is exciting that I am going through so many changes right now and sure glad I am single amidst all of it.

Health goals: I hope to achieve a healthy weight by completely changing my lifestyle to a healthy way to live, think, and act for the rest of my life and not over extending myself passed my limits. I have joined Curves and started seeing a counselor and I am happy to report I have almost hit the halfway mark! I have not only changed what I eat, but how I think and how active I am. Living a healthy lifestyle mind, body, and soul is the way I hope to continue to live until I die.

Professional: To be able to be comfortable and confident in this new role and face any challenge that presents itself in this industry.

This is definitely an exciting time in my life.

So you’ve recently returned from a trip to Vancouver, what was it like? What was your favorite part about the trip?

Grouse-mountain view from tower pod
Grouse Mountain view from the tower pod.

Ah yes, normally my parents and I go up there in April, which is their rainy season. By going in July everything was completely different, it barely rained the whole time we were up there, and it got to about 87 degrees which is really hot for them. Similarly to the West Coast States right now, they are experiencing a drought. It is abnormally dry up there and we heard reports everyday about all the fires in the area. They are in a water ban so the yards were all brown because they were not allowed to use sprinklers since water supplies are at such low levels. Besides that issue, it was a great trip. Vancouver is a great city; after four visits, we still find new things to do. I must first say the food is unbelievable there! There are sushi and coffee shops on every block; I promise I am not kidding. In the winter it rains a lot, therefore, people will not want to walk far to get their coffee to help them get through the dreary day and not sure if you knew this but it is easier to become a Canadian citizen then a US citizen so they have a major Asian population in the BC area.

Vancouver Harbour-looking up at the tower at top right corner
Vancouver Harbour

Back to your question, I suppose I had three main highlights.

Vancouver recently just opened The Dark Table, which is a dinning experience in a completely pitch black room. All servers are either blind or visually impaired, which was a neat thing to know about. To set the scene, order before you go in. Walk in with hands on the shoulder of the person that will be sitting next to. Next, be physically placed and shown with our hands where everything was. Last, grab food from the waiter, but never be told what it is. I will say it is hard to have a normal conversation because we all ended up narrating what we were doing or tasting. My sister’s best friend joined us, and she was very entertaining. It was great fun, I didn’t make too much of a mess, and I was still using utensils by the end.

Next highlight has to be the new attraction at Canada Place, cruise ship port, called “Fly Over Canada.” The experience didn’t last long enough, in my opinion; it only lasted about 10 minutes. We were on a ride that would sway back and forth in front of this massive screen. We flew from east to west so flew over places like Niagara Falls, fireworks in Toronto, running with horses in the Prairies, up in the Rockies, and then ended in Vancouver. It was incredible!! It was a great practice for what we did last this trip.

Grouse-Grizzly Bears
Sara’s Grizzly bear sighting on Grouse Mountain!

We took a harbour tour before going to Fly Over Canada and we saw a wind tower on the top of a mountain. So that wind tower is on the top of Grouse Mountain which is north of the city of North Vancouver. Grouse Mountain has three main levels. To get from the bottom to the main level there are two ways, take a tram, SkyRide, or hike up the trail called, “The Grind” that consists of over 2,800 steps. My sister did it in a little over an hour. My parents and I took the tram up and walked around exploring the food, shops, a nature theater, two grizzly bears, bee hives and a lumber jack show. After lunch, we took a ski lift ride up to the top and from there an elevator up the wind tower. This is the only wind tower the public can go up in and see from the top in North America. The views from up there were just incredible!!

I know that was a lot to talk about, but it was all new for me and very exciting!!!

Gouse-mountain view from tower base
Grouse Mountain view from tower base.

What other destinations would you enjoy visiting? 

I have the approach I want to go to olympic cities. So I have been to London and Vancouver. Next on my list are Sydney and Rome.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I think the greatest power would be invisibility. Maybe I shouldn’t admit this but I enjoy people watching and trying to read them. It would be like I was a fly on the wall with out the threat of getting swatted at. Since I enjoy experiencing new places but don’t like being away from home for too long at a time. I would want the perks of being able to move quickly from place to place. I could see more places and visit family and friends more.

Who is your hero?

There are a lot influential people in my life, but the one I will have to say is my mom. To see how she has grown up and continues to make a difference in peoples lives when I know she had a hard upbringing is pretty powerful stuff. Also, she is always there supporting me when I cry and cheering me on when I am excited. I dread the day I lose her.

If you had to have the same meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I have always said pizza because as long as it is a little different you can make it a breakfast, snack, lunch, dinner, or dessert. Although, I know now pizza is one of the most unhealthy foods you can eat. Lucky for me, I do love all foods pretty much now, but pizza is just so versatile. I would have to stick to my answer being pizza as long as I could change up the crust, sauce, and toppings from time to time.