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About

Spark True Living | Dana E. Yost
"You don't need to be at the top of the mountain before you help another climber take the next step." ~ Dana E. Yost

Welcome to Spark True Living! My name is Dana Yost and this is my blog and personal website. I created this site to encourage and inspire people to pursue their greatest potential. I want you to spark motivation, determination, imagination and innovation toward a life that is truly worth living! Press forward toward goals that result in self-improvement, growth, and making the world a better place by offering value and compassion to others. Of course this is also a place where people can get to know me. I have certain sections set aside to specifically show who I am and what I've done. This allows me to have a personalized online exhibition which people can refer to if they need information or evidence of my individual credentials, community involvement, or past achievements. It's like my online resume, but in more color and detail because I can share stories, pictures, and videos that display my personality and effort​. I've also heard of this type of personal compilation sometimes called an "I love me" portfolio - back when it used to be kept in binders. This online version serves a similar purpose - to let people know me better and see the kind of person I am. I want to be clear though that I want to offer more content for YOU here than stuff about me. As I grow and reach for my own potential I want to offer tools, tips, resources, and encouragement to you that will help you get to the next level of your goals and closer to maximizing fulfillment and joy in your work and life. Don't just chase after any dream, you have to identify the right dreams for YOU. You are uniquely gifted in areas of experience, strengths, talents, and skills and there is a way to harness those things to live a purposeful and fulfilling life. Engage in self-discovery, seek opportunities, explore new things, and embrace the richness that life has to offer! My aim is to create content where you can be inspired and empowered to pursue your own passions and adventures, and discover your true potential! Make your life something worth sharing with others! If your life were a book, would it be worth reading? Please feel free to comment and tell me if anything you find here has been particularly encouraging to you, I'd love to hear about it!

  • I am a Christian

    I am a Christian, 100 percent! I fully and gratefully credit my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, with making me who I am and blessing me with the gifts, opportunities, family and resources that I have. He is my strength, my hope, my protector and provider, and my complete guide through life. As long as I follow Him and trust Him, I can have confidence that everything will turn out for my best good and His glory, and I could not be in any better position than that. He is central to my life and everything I do.

  • I am a veteran

    I think 100 or 0 are really the only options for this one. You either are a veteran, or you are not. I served for six years in the Air Force from 2007 to 2013, then honorably separated. I spent five years in Security Forces and deployed twice to the Middle East. I thank God for protecting me and keeping me out of danger no matter where I went.

  • I am a traveler

    I love to explore and see new places. I have a particular love for and interest in Japan. For a variety of reasons, I love the Japanese people, language, culture and food. I love going almost anywhere though, because every new experience has its own rewards. I love learning, sharing and teaching what I learn. I set this at only 72 percent because I also really enjoy the stability of a home and group of friends, family and familiarity to which I can always return.

  • I am a writer

    I have to admit, this one has been the hardest to fully claim and believe about myself. I never dreamed I would become a writer. When I sensed a prompting in my heart to start writing, it came as a surprise. Over the course of 2-3 years, I played with the idea of becoming a writer, but I didn't know where to start or how. I just knew I had to write. My blog has been undergoing developmental stages where it has shifted in topics because the ultimate focus and purpose for my writing hadn't yet been established. I am actively learning as much as I can to improve my writing, to read more, to blog more, and to create books and value for YOU! Spark True Living is rapidly becoming more focused and effective in offering useful resources for visitors. Feel free to explore and please subscribe and join me in pursuing your greatest potential!

Portfolio

Dana E. Yost
  • Employment History & Experience

    Summary

    My experience includes, but is not limited to, six years of military service with training in law enforcement and some linguistics. Duties included management of records, filing, tracking, creating reports, policy letters, training presentations, supervising personnel and developing excellent customer service skills in multicultural environments. I am highly self-motivated and a creative thinker.

    Key Qualifications

    • Held high security clearances
    • Basic Management Experience
    • Instruction/Training
    • Security/Law Enforcement
    • Procurement
    • Mediation/Liaison
    • Good Communication/Intellection
    • Computer Literacy (e.g., Word, Excel, PPT)
    • Typing ability: 45+ WPM
    • Attention to detail

    Employment History

    Domino’s – JARINC (May 2015 – Aug. 2015)

    • Delivery Driver – Make timely deliveries of food orders to customers within designated service area. Between deliveries assist with store maintenance, preparations, customer service and order transactions.

    Chicos FAS (Sep. 2013 – Jun. 2014)

    • Sales Associate – Provide excellent customer service and product knowledge to customers, process sales transactions, and assist with store maintenance and restocking.

    United States Air Force (Aug. 2007 – Aug. 2013) – Highest Rank Achieved: E-5 / Staff Sergeant

    • Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan (2010-2013)
    • Security Forces – Response Force Leader/Patrolman – Enforce traffic laws, respond to emergencies, verify authorization for restricted areas, secure facilities, supervise Response Force Members, update records, file paperwork, diffuse confrontational situations, foster positive relations with the general public and display conduct that will dignify solidarity between US military and local civilian authorities.
    • Security Forces – Vehicle Control Non-Commissioned Officer (1 year – 2011) – Manage a fleet of 54 government vehicles, educate/train personnel on vehicle safety and policies, organize and file records, track vehicle maintenance status, secure equipment and operational records, write and distribute policy letters and accident reports, create diagrams of equipment placement throughout facilities to ensure compliance with security standards, monitor supply expenses and procure new supplies as needed.
    • Charleston Air Force Base, Charleston, SC (2009-2010)
    • Security Forces – Response Force Member/Security Guard – Verify the credentials of everyone entering the installation and restricted areas to prevent unauthorized access to Air Force resources. Report and confront unauthorized personnel attempting to gain access and respond to emergencies and requests for assistance in the assigned area of responsibility.
    • Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center, Monterey, CA (2007-2008)
    • Cryptologic Linguist Apprentice – Learn an assigned language within the allotted time frame for use within the United States Air Force for intelligence gathering and analyzing.

    Education & Training

    • University of Colorado – Boulder, CO (2014-2017) – Bachelor of Arts degree in progress; Japanese major, Dance minor.  Anticipated graduation: May, 2018.  (Honored on the Dean’s List for 4 semesters of academic achievement of a 3.75 GPA or higher to date. Accepted as a member of the prestigious fraternity, Phi Beta Kappa for sustained academic excellence.)
    • Waseda University (2016-2017) – Exchange program through the University of Colorado, Boulder. Studied for one full academic year at this prestigious school in Tokyo, Japan.
    • Community College of the Air Force (2007-2013) – Associate of Science Degree in Criminal Justice
    • Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (2007-2008) – Foreign Language major, specializing in Pashto. (Military assigned language, originating in Afghanistan and Pakistan).
    • Pikes Peak Community College (2005-2006) – Foreign Language major, specializing in Japanese
    • Elizabeth High School (2001-2004) – High School Diploma

    Hobbies & Interests

    • Tabletop Role Playing Games – An entertainment format that also promotes life skills such as teamwork, group management, delegation, decision making, problem solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking & innovation, multitasking, leadership, respect, etc.
    • Volunteering, giving to charity
    • Dancing – Swing, Jazz, Cultural, Aerial, Contemporary/Modern, etc.
    • Outdoor activities – Horseback riding, hiking, camping, fishing, rafting, climbing.
    • Indoor activities – Games, movies, quality time with friends & family.
    • Travel, exploring new places and cultures
    • Myers-Briggs Personality Test: INFP

     

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    Employment History & Experience
    Work & Education
  • United States Air Force – Enlisted

    After I graduated basic military training in San Antonio, TX, I went to my first technical school at the Defense Language Institute (DLI) in Monterey, CA. I was a “White Rope,” which was someone who spent extra time volunteering, assisting at the chapel and other philanthropic needs, and set an example as one with impeccable integrity.

    I was there for one year, learning my assigned language; Pashto (Afghanistan/Pakistan). I was trying to become a Cryptologic Linguist, but the program was too fast for me. I had 47 weeks to go from zero to proficient in my assigned language. I made it to week 31, then failed out of the class for my inability to keep up with the pace of learning.

    I requested reassignment to an earlier class in order to finish the program and just take a little extra time with the language. My request was denied. For the next several months I waited to see what new job they would assign to me since they determined I was not qualified to be a linguist. I had hoped, as a secondary choice, to be an analyst that works with linguists. I had the security clearance and assessment scores for the job, or any other Intel job, but they refused to reassign me to anything in the intelligence career field. Instead they assigned me to Security Forces (SF).

    I’m not going to lie, the AF Intel community tends to really look down on SF as a trash job. It’s a job that virtually anyone can qualify to do just by signing their name on the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery – used to assess your qualifications for certain types of jobs). SF is an extremely important job and it deserves a lot more respect than it receives. However, it struggles with morale and image because there are so many people who end up in the job that never wanted to be there. I was one of them. I didn’t choose that job, and I didn’t want to do it. Nonetheless, I know that God is in control and there was a reason for being there. Despite not liking the job, I knew it was very important. I worked hard at it and struggled every day to fight the good fight, to do my duty, to maintain integrity, and to not quit – even though there were so many times when I wanted to. I made it through, it taught me a lot, and gave me valuable life skills and knowledge.

    Security Forces is basically the military police of the Air Force. At our permanent duty station (base) we execute law enforcement. We drive patrol cars, guard gates and restricted areas as security, check buildings after hours, pull people over for anything from speeding and talking on the phone while driving, to hit and runs, to someone criminally barricading themselves in their car (or anywhere).

    My last big call before I left the military was an incident where a distraught and mentally unstable mother had barricaded herself in her car with her infant in near hundred degree weather. We ended up needing to break the car window to get to the child and arrest the mother. She was essentially holding her own child hostage, and it was an uncomfortable situation for everyone. It all worked out okay in the end, fortunately.

    We train for many of the same kinds of things that civilian law enforcement does, including but not limited to; active shooters, bomb threats, serious accidents, chemical & biological hazards, trespassers/intruders, domestic violence, suicide, homicide, etc. The training is never ending, and honestly, even though it does help, it still sometimes doesn’t feel sufficient to prepare you for the real serious situations when they happen.

    My first official base assignment after I finished my technical training in SF was in Charleston, SC. I was there for one year, during which time it actually snowed (see the snow photograph above). It was the first time it had snowed in South Carolina in the past 6 or 8 years I was told. It left maybe half an inch of snow on the ground, and everything shut down (except us of course). I found it amusing. Being from Colorado, we don’t shut down until it’s probably more than two feet of snow plus windchill! In South Carolina, people went nuts, couldn’t drive well, and seemed too scared to leave their houses. That was a good night for me I think. It was quiet since no one was out.

    Security Forces also deploy a lot. Counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency is part of our training and list of duties as well. We are the foot-soldiers of the Air Force on foreign soil when we aren’t playing cops-n-robbers at our home base. This opens up a whole new field of training and responsibilities because now we have to concern ourselves with international laws, politics, rules of engagement (ROEs), and many other things that guide and limit our spectrum of obligations and duties. All the rules and laws are good; you can’t have law and order without those structures and limitations, but they can get really tedious and seem like a lot when you learn them.

    Study, study, study – that’s basically all you do between job assignments when you are within the first four enlisted ranks (E1-E4/Airman Basic – Senior Airman). You have a series of books and tests to complete called Career Development Courses (CDCs) that are essentially a comprehensive training course for your specific career field. Every Air Force career field has them. Despite their monotony, I managed to pass the courses with 97%, in the top 10% of the career field – or so I was told. I received two commander’s coins for the achievement from the commander at my first deployed location – Kuwait. They said I was in the top  10% when I graduated SF tech school training as well. I didn’t really feel all that accomplished at the time though, so I wondered whether that was actually significant. Studying never ends though. It’s a big part of the military, and life.

    During pre-deployment training we go to a field-training location. We learn things like how to read maps, navigate terrain, and drive a number of military vehicles. I was able to drive HMMWVs, two-ton trucks, and learn the basics of an MRAP, though I didn’t get to drive that one personally. We go through battle drills, warfare exercises, accident prevention and response (like experiencing a vehicle roll-over so that we’ll know what to do if it happens. There is a machine that simulates this), IED identification and practice, as well as role-playing with simulated villages and foreign locals similar to what we may encounter on the coming deployment. Live battles are also simulated.

    The training is intensive and tries to be thorough. It is usually very tiring and definitely uncomfortable at times. But when training for the possibility of facing life and death decisions and situations, comfort is not a high priority, and could be detrimental to inducing the appropriate mindset and resilience.

    Living on a military base in the desert was a different feel for sure. Despite the fact that it could easily get to be 120-140 degrees in the middle of the day, and even 90-100 degrees at midnight, it did have its picturesque moments. Sunrise was kinda pretty, but I couldn’t help but think that the vision of seeing the sun come up over a concrete
    wall with barbed wire gave a real “prison” feel every day at work. But, shrug that off and get back to work. It’s unimportant.

    Some jobs were more engaging and easier to pass the time than others. SF is a job of extremes – you’re either really bored, or sh** just hit the fan and everything is in chaos. Fortunately actual disasters are pretty rare, but we have to be prepared for them to happen at any given moment, because they likely won’t give any warning. That kind of vigilance is demanded for 8, 12, sometimes even up to 16 hours a day, depending on how long the shifts end up going. If it’s really bad, they can go even longer.

    Truth be told though, it’s not realistic for human beings to be able to retain 100% vigilance constantly for that long, especially when for hours or days on end, nothing ever happens. You sit, or stand, staring at the same pebbles on the ground, or parked plane, for hours on end. Walk around it. Look at it again. Make sure the lines on the pavement are still there. Start talking to the thing you’re guarding possibly. Some people got into a lot of trouble because they got bored and started doing things they weren’t supposed to. I won’t lie, I got sucked into the temptation to watch movies or play games on my phone or iPad on post sometimes. It never went over well when I was caught, and no one really had an excuse, except that it felt like a way of retaining some sanity. Sure, in a tower by yourself, you might have a 27 lb. machine gun right next to your arm, but it’s not like you can just play with it. If you have to use it that means really bad things are happening, and until then, it needs to be kept ready, and you need to stay awake – which was much harder than it sounds some days.

    For my second deployment I went to UAE (United Arab Emirates). I can’t complain too much about that deployment. As for the work and place, it was better than Kuwait I think. Although both places had the best Middle Eastern food! I loved the local restaurants that operated on or near the base. So delicious! Yummy shawarma!

    The only thing that made it simultaneously the worst deployment ever was the fact that my husband (at the time) told me shortly after I deployed that he didn’t want to be married anymore. So, I spent those five months in the desert with constant internal pain and anguish over my deteriorating marriage. I did everything I could to save our marriage, but ultimately he left, and there was nothing I could do. Well, that’s enough about that disaster, lets get back to what was nice about this deployment.

    I have to say that I think God blessed me by allowing some recreational reprieves on this deployment that were not available when I went to Kuwait. It was also helpful for me to cope with my personal crisis. Military personnel were allowed off of the base three times per month for recreational sight seeing or activities.

    Thankfully, during pre-deployment training, I had also been certified on an ATV safety course. So in UAE, I also got to ride over sand dunes on an ATV. That was fun! I also got to ride a camel (if you consider being led by rope in a small circle really “riding,” but hey, I was on a camel!). I also tried “sand boarding” down one of the sand dunes. Riding a board down sand is not nearly as smooth or fast as on snow. I haven’t been snow boarding, but I don’t need to to know that there is no comparison. The sand made it slow, and the board stopped here and there when there were bumps in the sand. Nice to try once, but not really that fun. Sand angels were more interesting to me!

    On a few other excursions when I wasn’t working, I went to a mall with some coworkers in Abu Dhabi. There were a lot of fancy sports cars and flashy wealth displayed all over the city. It truly is a very wealthy country! One of my coworkers was even able to orchestrate a scuba diving trip for a few of us in the Persian Gulf! That was really an unexpected opportunity. I had just received scuba certification while I was stationed in Okinawa, Japan (my second permanent duty station), so I was able to go on that trip!

    I have to admit that the Persian Gulf wasn’t all that impressive for diving. The water was murky, there were some small jellyfish that we had to navigate around to get down to our dive depth – we all got stung a little bit, but they weren’t dangerous jellyfish, so they didn’t cause much damage. Just a little irritated skin. Not much to report about the underwater experience, but the main intrigue of the trip is that I get to say that I’ve been scuba diving in the Persian Gulf! How many people get to say they’ve had that experience? During a military deployment, no less! Unheard of.

    We also had visitors on the deployment from a few professional football players and cheerleaders – The Redskins. The cheerleaders did performances, the players spoke, signed autographs, and interacted with us. Everyone seemed to enjoy their visit.

    I was also able to visit the officer’s club of the UAE military, which is WAY more fancy and amazing than any officer’s club or base facility I have ever seen in or associated with the U.S. Talk about a rich country, their officer’s club was like a five star hotel! Maybe more, I don’t know. I had a cocktail and small meal there, looked around at their bowling alley, spa, and other amenities. They said there was even a shooting range at the club, but I didn’t see that. It was pretty amazing, but even that was nothing compared to the grand mosque I toured!

    I went on a tour of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Not all mosques, especially grand mosques, offer tours. So, I was intrigued by the chance to see one up close. Everything was gorgeously and meticulously crafted and decorated. From the fountains outside the huge building, to the vast courtyard, to every detail on the inside of the building. The main dome (not visible in the photos) was gold plated, or maybe even solid gold, I can’t remember.

    In order to enter the mosque, I was required to put on a hijab, which were offered to borrow before entering an outer hallway lining the courtyard. Just like the rest of the building, the main foyer was elaborately decorated (see photo to the left). None of that room had any wall paper or paint. It was all pure white marble and the flower designs were entirely constructed of inlaid semi-precious stones and jewels. It’s enough to make your eyes pop when you’re there! If you research it, the construction and design are incredible. Even the carpet in the main hall is the world’s largest single piece carpet, and it, too, has beautiful intricate designs. They spared no expense on this building.

    At the end of all these wonderful experiences though, I still had to go back to work. Back to wearing 20 pounds of gear and ammo in sweltering heat, with at least two weapons and sometimes a face-mask to help keep the sand off of my face and out of my nose, mouth and eyes. When the wind picks up out there, the sand can be really uncomfortable. I’ll try not to drum up the discomfort too much, though. They did give us coolers with lots of drinks to stay hydrated, and we occasionally had opportunities to take breaks and
    take off our gear and uniform jacket so that we didn’t overheat. You just have to adapt to the environment and learn to take care of yourself while still getting the job done.

    I won’t say I enjoyed my military career, but it did have some pleasant experiences, as you saw. Despite not getting the job I wanted in the Air Force, I don’t regret joining, nor any of the experiences I’ve had, good or bad.

    All of those experiences taught me lessons and made me stronger. I hated a lot of it, but now I know how to deal with things I hate, situations that are difficult, and people that are…well, you know. I made a few wonderful friends through all those adventures, too. There is really an extra special feeling that you feel for someone when you realize that they’ve been there, they can relate, and you can mention a topic or experience and they will immediately know what you’re talking about. The unseen bond that develops between people who have been there and done that, that is what they are talking about when they call themselves, “Band of Brothers.” Now I understand that feeling, too.

    When I separated from the Air Force in 2013, I had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant (E-5). I earned an Associate of Science degree in Criminal Justice through the Community College of the Air Force (CCAF). I was also awarded several certificates, commemorative coins, and ribbons for my service. The ribbons I earned are shown below.

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    United States Air Force – Enlisted
    Military Work & Education
  • University of Colorado – Boulder, CO

    I started attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO in Fall of 2014. I separated from the military in the summer of 2013, and took one year to work. I had dead end jobs like retail and pizza delivery, but it bought me some time to figure out what I was going to do next. I decided to use my veteran educational benefits to get a Bachelor’s degree. I didn’t know what career I wanted, so I just chose to study a couple hobbies I’ve had; Japanese and dance.

    Performing African dance for the class final. Our final test was designed like a party! We had to make an African food dish to bring, organize a unique African dance with a team, and perform and dance with everyone!

    Old Main: This used to be the main building of the school of Arts & Sciences. It is now a museum detailing much of the history of CU, Boulder.

    I started school with double majors, but eventually found it was best to downgrade dance to a minor and keep Japanese as my major. As time has gone by, I have discovered that returning to school has served essentially the same purpose as any other job, in that it was buying me time to figure out what to do next. However, the difference is that as I am using education as a “place holder” for a career, I am building credibility by finishing a degree and giving myself a chance to figure out what I like and what I don’t.

    I have really enjoyed taking some time learning what I want to learn in school. I have learned about all kinds of dances in school, including; ballet, contemporary/modern, improvisation, aerial dance, African dance, Jazz dance, and more!

    I have really expanded my knowledge of Japanese language and culture, participated in a variety of classes from language and history to music and dance from Japan. I also took the amazing opportunity to study abroad for one academic year at Waseda University in Tokyo just before graduating.

    It was an incredible experience and gave me memories and experience that I will treasure for a lifetime. It also gave me invaluable global experience, greater comfort with travel and problem solving, and a better understanding of the Japanese people and other cultures in general.

     

    Overall, my academic efforts have been more successful than I even expected them to be. For the first time in my life I received academic honors. I was on the Dean’s List at the University of Colorado for four semesters in a row for academic achievement of a 3.75 GPA or higher while a full time student. I am a I was also invited and accepted to the prestigious fraternity Phi Beta Kappa (ΦBK).

    This is the talented group of dancers who created color all over a canvass by dancing on paint!

    I volunteered to dance for an art project where we danced with wet paint on a canvass to see what different patterns are made with different styles of dance!

    Phi Beta Kappa is America’s most prestigious academic honor society. I have learned that it is actually quite a rare honor. 10% of U.S. colleges and universities have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. These chapters select only 10% of their arts and sciences graduates to join.

     

     

     

    I am deeply grateful for all the things I’ve learned and experienced through my time at the University of Colorado. It gave me the time and insight I needed to finally figure out a direction I wanted to go in life.It is not solely responsible for helping to give direction to my life, (God is solely responsible for that), but it was one of the tools that aided in the process. I created this section as part of my portfolio, because this school and this time of my life is worthy of acknowledgement in the shaping the things I know and think now and in the future. Ironically, that often means that I disagree with many things and attitudes that are prevalent in the academic environment, but being around it was still enlightening – even when I think they’re wrong about certain things. I learned how to explore and assess my own reasoning and beliefs, as well as those of others, and developed my ability to articulate my thoughts and what I have learned.

    I danced Japanese dances during some songs in a Japanese Ensemble class! Such a fun cultural experience!

    I played music on Taiko drums in a Japanese Ensemble class!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    After I had started attending CU, I found the plaque that honors my great great grandfather! He was one of the first faculty members who also earned a PhD degree from the the University of Colorado in Boulder.

     

     

     

    Learning different tricks and positions off the ground for aerial dance class! I also learned some techniques on trapeze! Such an amazing form of dance

    Making a “box” on aerial fabric for an aerial dance class! It takes a bit of strength and balance to keep the shape. This was one of my favorite classes!

    For a Modern dance class, I created a project of which I am very proud. I constructed a life-sized icosahedron (20-sided shape) in order to illustrate and present on the topic of the “kinesphere;” a dance concept about movement. I gifted it to my teacher for future use in her classes.

    I volunteered and received the main protagonist role in a very creative student film project at CU! It was a kung fu filme called, “The Return of the Dragon Sword.” I played a blind kung fu master on a mission to destroy the evil magical sword that had been used to blind me and kill countless people when I was a child. Amazing experience!

    Here I am at West Gate Kung Fu school in Boulder, CO. I am meeting other cast members for the student film in which I am the main protagonist; The Return of the Dragon Sword. This is where I learned the choreography for the kung fu fights, choreographed by Noel Baterna. The film was written and directed by Jason Phelps. Awesome production!

     

    Representing the University of Colorado in front of Mt. Fuji, Yamanashi, Japan!

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    University of Colorado – Boulder, CO
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  • My Projects

    This portrait was skillfully drawn by my friend, Danette, who is also a photographer for Golden Hour Wedding Photography.

    Click on any of the following categories to view my projects!

    Film & Theater

    Dance

    Modeling

    My Books

    Awards & Recognition

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