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The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative

The editorial team has a special attachment to our new series, The Trailblazers: Rewriting the Narrative, because so many of us feel that media portrayals of women have been too one dimensional. Today, women are doing incredible things in all fields – from science and technology to finance, law, business, athletics and more. With the Trailblazers series, we hope to highlight and celebrate female role models, encourage more equal and just representation in the media, and help foster a more tight-knit community locally helping women find mentors, business partners, friends and more.

Kaila Wright (Varano)

My journey started about seven years ago when I decided to attend the University of Central Florida. From the first day, I stepped on campus, I was scared and intimidated by how large the school was. My high school graduating class was a mere 213 students and I now faced the second-largest university in the nation which at the time had 60,000 students. I met a few friends here and there, but no one really stuck except for my now husband and his circle of friends. I was really down a lot of the time as my college experience really didn’t fit the expectations I had set and I really wanted to move back home after my first semester. I remember talking to mom about leaving and she told me to give it another semester and to put myself out there and try something new. Read more>>

Rachel Hilinski

My company evolved from my own journey over the past twenty-plus years. I learned at an early age how real, whole foods made my mind and body feel. I went from being borderline anemic, feeling heavy and exhausted to feeling alive with ENERGY. There was no going back! However, life has a funny way of throwing you curveballs, and years later when I lost my dad to cancer, the fear and pain wore my body down. My healthy food choices were keeping me stable, but my mental and emotional health was falling apart. I realized that I needed more than nutrition to get me through this part of my life. I needed to lose my fear, calm my mind, BREATHE and center myself. Read more>>

Dr. Dacia Milescu

Dr. Dacia Milescu Founder & Owner Serenity Now Yoga Corp.​Established 2010 Professor at Daytona State College for Anatomy & Physiology, as well as Human Biology in the Department of Biological and Physical Science She is a retired Podiatric Physician & Board Certified Foot & Ankle Surgeon,​Medical Yoga Teacher and Energy Medicine Healer. She holds multiple certifications that yield a well-rounded physician, professor and holistic wellness practitioner. Dr. Milescu offers personal development and empowerment to manage stress holistically. Her path is to teach others in connecting body, mind and soul. Read more>>

Renee Bertalan

I moved from Orlando to Minneapolis, MN to study Youth Development at North Central University. I chose NCU because they had an excellent program for those who wanted to learn how to serve young people in a nonprofit setting. I was there for two years. Then during my senior year of college, I moved to New York City to intern at an anti-human trafficking organization. Following my internship, I moved back to Florida and got my first job in my field at a live-in treatment center for teens with alcohol and drug dependencies. I loved serving young people but I ended up transitioning into sales and management in the corporate world for financial reasons. Like many, once I entered adulthood I realized that the education system hadn’t prepared me for the financial realities I would face. Read more>>

Allana Rollerson

Pin’D Up Energy was bred from the unfortunate social injustices that have been occurring in the USA. As a black mom, we’re dealt a different hand, from a completely different deck. It’s rewarding and scary, joyous, yet full of anxiety…these pins were created by a single #BlackBoyMom wanting the world to know how proud she is to be blessed with her baby boy. Read more>>

Erin Martin-Kamalzadeh

I grew up always drawn to photographs, not just family photographs, but including publications. What consistently captured my attention was the photograph between the bright yellow solid border on the covers of National Geographic. It was always a pick-up-must. For me, the photographs told the stories. Christmas 2003, my late brother, Eric, gave me one of the best gifts, my first camera, the Nikon F55. This would be his final gift to me before he passed away less than one month later, leaving me a tool that would pave a future career and passion. I started off as most photographers do, a hobbyist. For many years I dabbled in a bit of everything while raising our three boys and building my portfolio. About five years ago, I happened to cross paths in real estate photography. Read more>>

Mariella Montoya

I’d like to say my story is motivational, mostly limitless. When I was little, I was diagnosed with epilepsy; and even though everything was under control, I lived a life with restrictions. Simple things such as riding a roller coaster, watching scary movies, or driving a car were some of the things that I couldn’t do back then because of the way my lifestyle was settled. Today that has changed. My life is not the same anymore. After a couple of surgeries, I am now a “free bird” able to live a normal life. and finally doing all the things that I love, one of those is photography! Now my passion for arts and photography was always in me, I remember gathering pictures and making book collages with them! Read more>>

Susan McLean

As VP of Marketing and Innovation at Uncle Matt’s Organic Inc., I wear a lot of hats. That’s not too surprising since the company I run with my husband, Matt (Uncle Matt), is America’s #1 selling organic orange juice. I’m primarily responsible for the development and execution of overall brand strategy, marketing programs, digital campaigns, and retail packaging. I also oversee all consumer and shopper marketing programs, I manage brand innovation, and I develop all digital marketing campaigns from website to social influencers. Read more>>

Jasmine Brown

I was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida until about 10th grade. My 10th-grade year, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia where I finished high school. Once I graduated, I moved back to Florida where I attended UCF. This is where my journey starts. I never intended on being a makeup artist. I sort of fell into it. I had this fascination with brows. So I started to mess with my brows. I definitely messed them up. But I kept trying to perfect them. After brows, I then started to become interested in skin. I loved how foundation and concealer looked when it was applied correctly. Read more>>

Lotoya Jean

I am an immigrant, I migrated to America six years ago and wanted to experience life in the land of opportunities. It was a big sacrifice for me but I had to do what was necessary for my children and myself at the time. I always had a knock for business and was a young and passionate entrepreneur in the island of Jamaica. I had my first official business at age 13. I started with money I saved from my lunch each day and bought grocery’s to sell in my community. I saw my single mother struggled financially and I wanted to ease the burden by creating a source of income for myself. My mother had a business but after a while, she was not able to manage because of financial reason. Read more>>

Brooke Nicole

In April of 2019, I was asked to do my first photoshoot with a local photographer. I was nervous but open-minded to the idea of being a model. My first experience was amazing and I began putting my photos out there on social media and that’s when opportunities started to take off for me. Instagram has been the best outlet for me to market myself and meet others in the industry. I started getting inquiries and started working with local photographers frequently. I received local branding jobs, signed with two local agencies, and built great relationships with makeup artists and clients. Read more>>

Pallavi Cherukupally

I have been a Spine Specialist for over 15 years. I worked with a traditional orthopedic facility for more than eight years but got tired of not being able to help my clients in a long-lasting, meaningful way. I left that company since they did not support my expanding into Regenerative/Stem Cell Therapy. I went to another company in Atlanta and started treating patients this way with amazing results. After a couple of years, I decided that I would like to start my own company and treat patients the way that I felt they deserved. Read more>>

Shandah Martin

I worked for a roofing company and all the notaries were roofers and never in the building. I asked my boss, “doesn’t it make sense for someone who is in the office everyday, all day to be a notary to sign off on the permits?” He said, “Yep, take the course and sign up and we’ll pay for it.” And so, I took the course, passed the test, turned in my paperwork and started my journey as a notary public. Once I became a notary public, I researched other ways that I could utilize my notary stamp. I found that in the state of Florida, I could perform weddings. I had been an ordained minister for five years but I never broadcasted it or did anything with it. But once I found that out, I was soooo ecstatic. Read more>>

Jessica Sadeghi

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico where I study Dental assistant. I moved to Orlando with my parents in 1988 and married my husband, a wonderful Iranian man. While my daughter was a baby, I studied at night and got an associate degree in Medical Assisting. I worked in the medical field for a few years but I wanted to be there when my kids got off school and be a stay-at-home mom. While my kids were at school, I pursued my real passion, art. Read more>>

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