Young women take charge to fight for change
By Sara Dingmann
Photos by AB-Photography.us
Yezi Gugsa is tired of hearing people say that kids these days don’t know what they are talking about.
“It’s just not the truth anymore,” Gugsa says. “The truth is we’ve done extensive research, and we’ve done our best to educate ourselves. In most cases, we’ve done more research than a lot of adults have.” Continue reading
NEVER LISTEN TO THE NAYSAYERS
By Rosei Skipper
Photography by AB-PHOTOGRAPHY.com
Jas Tastik’s biggest piece of advice for aspiring creatives? “Just keep going. Never listen to the people who tell you no. And a thousand people will.”
Growing up in Rochester, aspiring to be a hip-hop artist, DJ or actress wasn’t exactly normal. But for Tastik (who’s known professionally as artist LaidEe P), music and performing have been her passions for as long as she can remember. Continue reading
Women’s shelter embraces a new leader
By Terri Allred
Photography by Fagan Studios
When you walk into the Women’s Shelter and Support Center, it feels very much like walking into a home. A friendly advocate greets you warmly. The reception area has novels and self-help books, and there is a computer station for researching job possibilities or connecting to social media. Continue reading
Blending Cultures, Traditions, families and Flavors
By Heather Weller
Long before Shari Mukherjee made a name for herself as a self-taught chef finalist on Fox Network’s “MasterChef,” she was a newlywed. A newlywed that could not cook. In fact, about 10 years ago, Mukherjee’s husband jokingly nominated her to be a contestant on the show “Worst Cooks in America”—a show designed to turn terrible cooks into competent ones in a matter of weeks. Continue reading
Beautiful in their strength
By Gina Dewink
In Kellogg, Minnesota, east of Rochester, lives a family of four remarkable young women. Olivia, Maddie, Abby and Julia Schmoker are sisters who exemplify the mantra that strong is beautiful. Continue reading
Redefining the face of the
By Laura Archbold
Photography by Elaine Pardi
It’s been said that true beauty can be found in a woman’s strength and goes beyond what is seen on the surface. Jennifer Lawver’s strength is undeniably beautiful, as her inner qualities of courage, tenacity and resilience radiate for the world to see. Continue reading
Building a business with creativity and confidence
By Tori Utley
Photography by Fagan Studios
As many entrepreneurs know, where there’s no risk, there’s no reward. Bringing a great idea to light requires the courage to step out—often unsure of the outcome—with confidence, passion and tenacity. Continue reading
No two days are the same FOR WORKERS AT Rochester International Airport (RST), and it’s a perfect fit for Tiana O’Connor. Her journey began in 2005 with a part-time temporary assignment helping the airport with accounting and marketing. It has evolved into a fulfilling career for O’Connor, where she serves in the role as the airport’s first full-time marketing and communications manager.
O’Connor is responsible for guiding strategy for all communication, including public relations, media relations and advertising for the airport and its newly established routes and services. “A compelling brand story needs to be authentic in order to make connections. It’s really about the big and small stories inside that help tell a bigger story. I love my job because I get to find and tell the real stories inside the airport.”
THE TITLE “ARTISTIC DIRECTOR” IS LISTED IN NEARLY ALL PROGRAMS OF LIVE THEATRE, FOLLOWED BY A NAME. Sometimes the first page contains a note from the director with thoughts about the playwright, the actors or the overall production. That’s about all we know of the person behind the curtains—the one who assembles the designers, cast and crew; the one responsible for helping each actor realize their full potential resulting in a remarkable, memorable and profitable show; the one who quite possibly is entrusted with the fate and future of the theatre itself.
It’s a long and winding road that leads a director to be the driving force behind the curtain, and for women sometimes the road is fraught with bumps, twists and turns. Southeast Minnesota has numerous women who have traveled the road and are now successful and prolific theatre directors.
SHE PAID HER DUES
Cheryl Frarck has worked her magic on numerous stages. “I began as a drama director while teaching at a high school,” Frarck says. “That was almost 50 years ago. I was frustrated with the lack of importance the drama department was given and subsequently the lack of respect for the drama director.” She wanted to focus on educational theatre, to “create generations of theatre lovers.” Frarck made an impact on the high school stage for many years before making the transition to community theatre.
MARISSA LARSON HAS HAD HER FAIR SHARE OF CHALLENGES. FROM LEARNING TO ACCLIMATE TO LIFE AS A DEAF PERSON TO EXPERIENCING ALCOHOLISM AND DEPRESSION, HER STORY CAN TEACH US ALL ABOUT THE VALUE OF RESILIENCY—AND HOW BOUNCING BACK FROM DIFFICULTY IS WHERE OUR GREATEST PURPOSE CAN BE FOUND.
We Can Do Everything But Hear
Larson has been deaf most of her life. The idaho native lost her hearing when she was just 3 years old for reasons doctors could never explain. Having to learn to live, communicate and play differently, Larson says growing up deaf wasn’t always easy. And with a few family moves across the country—from Idaho to Texas and, finally, to Minnesota—it was challenging to find friends and build a community.
“It wasn’t easy growing up b-eing the only deaf person in my school,” Larson says. “I was bullied, left out a lot and struggled to make friends who were willing to learn sign language or take the time to get to know me.”
But Larson knew, as do others living with a disability, that she was much more than a deaf person. She was a daughter and a friend, excelled academically, had a great sense of humor and was a great athlete. Today, as an advocate for the deaf community, she’s made it her mission to educate others who “can do everything but hear.”