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"EveryoneEatz" volunteers gather to pass out free food at a recent Dallas event. The non-profit says there is "No questions, no Judgments" for those who come for help. Begun with free pizza, the non-profit now offers Covid testing, PPE and other fresh food for those in Dallas County who need help.

"No Questions, No Judgements," says "EveryoneEatz" Founder Ram Mehta, serving the hungry throughout  the Dallas Metroplex at multiple events.

The pandemic has created chaos in our country, but Ram Mehta feels it as also offered us something special: “The best opportunity for our communities to come together.”

It was not by chance that Ram Mehta, owner of In-Fretta Pizza in Plano, saw an opportunity to help those in need.

Mehta came to New York from India as a 15-year-old tourist. The sights, sounds, and opportunities he saw lead him to make New York his new home.

But he didn’t lead a luxurious life, working 18 hours a day for a job that paid $3 an hour. Homeless and living in subways, he struggled to scrape together a living in the expensive city, and eventually moved to Texas seven years ago.

Mehta says he came for an IT job and the opportunities here, for the family atmosphere and safer community. Through hard work he became the owner of In-Fretta Pizza in Plano.

As the pandemic hit in March, Mehta saw the dire consequences of the economic fallout across the country in the news. He remembered his days of living on the streets and he was determined to help those who needed it most. 

“No questions. No judgments.” Ram would post these words on social media as he offered anyone hungry and in need a free pizza from his restaurant. As he served hundreds, he thought of an idea to expand his charitable outreach: EveryoneEatz. 

Mehta created the non-profit, EveryoneEatz, to continue the momentum. He brought together a diverse group of community members to lead the organization and to plan for the future. Their motto is: "We rise by helping others."

This team has served over 300,000 meals already to the Dallas community, feeding the hardest hit while distributing PPE and providing free COVID-19 testing. He’s already held 53 events and plans to keep going.

The outreach has earned Mehta and his board proclamations recognizing their charitable efforts from both the Collin County Commissioners Court and the State of Texas.

EveryoneEatz is helping those most afflicted in our community during this crisis. To volunteer, look on the website, To learn more about upcoming events, follow the non-profit's efforts on Facebook and Instagram. For more information call 469-494-9555 or email


Judy Porter is a writer in Dallas and a volunteer with homeless teens. Contact her at:

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Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Club members were very colorful at the 2019 District Conference held in Richardson. Outgoing Club President, Debbie Tull (in yellow on left) was honored last month during the Annual Awards Meeting as the "Altrusan of the Year" for 2019-2020 for her leadership of the Downtown Dallas Club throughout the year. Due to the Coronavirus, this year's banquet was a well-attended ZOOM meeting led by Past President Kristi Francis. The club has helped women and children in Dallas since 1982.

Downtown Dallas Club Honors Members for Thousands of Hours Volunteered to the Community in 2019-2020

The BEST way to find yourself is in Service to Others – Ghandi

“Hats off to Altrusa!” was the theme for this year’s Annual Awards Meeting for the Altrusa International Club of Downtown Dallas, a 38-year old community service club that serves the downtown Dallas community. The club boasts leaders from every sector of the business community, and members have raised over $3 million dollars since its inception in 1982 to fund projects that help non-profits that support women and children in crisis and promotes literacy.

The annual celebration typically has been held at the Lakewood Country Club in east Dallas, but this year was hosted on Zoom with CPA Kristi Francis, a Past President of the club, as Master of Ceremonies. Each club member was asked to dress up by donning a hat or fascinator, and the MC wore her bridal veil which brought smiles to the 50 club members on the Zoom call.

This year’s “Altrusan of the Year,” honor was awarded to outgoing President Debbie Tull. This is the highest honor bestowed by the club’s members. To recognize her hard work all year the club made a $500 donation to the Altrusa International Foundation in Debbie’s name. This “Lamplighter” award is named after Martha Hofmeister, another well-known member of the downtown Dallas Club. Hofmeister has served Altrusa on the local, state/District Nine and International levels for over three decades. Hofmeister is a two-time Past President of the Downtown Dallas Club, and founder and director of Bar None, an all-volunteer Broadway-style musical variety show that features local judges and lawyers making fun of their profession to raise money for minority law students across the state. The show has delighted audiences at SMU for 34 years but is on hiatus this year due to the Coronavirus.

The “Heart of Altrusa” award was created in 1990 and goes to the member who “brings us all together in a spirit of cooperation.” Fund Raising Chair for the past two years and president-elect Naomi Ayala earned the award voted on by all the club members. A senior consultant with Diagio Reserve, she is the current president of the Dallas Professional Bartenders Association and was just appointed to the national board.

Two members of the club received their 30-year pins, Real Estate Attorney Barbara Kennedy of Lakewood and Public Relations Director Judy Porter of Lake Highlands.

The club met the first Tuesday of each month at the City Club on the 69th floor of the Bank of America Building downtown for over three decades but moved last year to the Park Cities Club located on Sherry Lane. Since the recent shut-down, the club has been meeting successfully over Zoom.

The Downtown Dallas Club was recently awarded a $4,000 grant to continue helping people in need in downtown Dallas.

Debbie Tull told the club via e-mail in May: “We are so fortunate to have these funds to support our service projects, thanks to Altrusa International Foundation. These funds are only available because of your generosity and that of Altrusans’ across the globe. Our club has now received $12,000 within one calendar year from the International Foundation.”

Fund Raising Chair Naomi Ayala and committee member Ann Worthy along with 2020-21 President attorney Karen Washington and past presidents Kathaleen Bauer, Judy Porter and Debbie Tull worked together on the grants. The bulk of the funds will be used to continue the club's commitment with Incarnation House, a safe place for homeless teens to go after school to study and eat dinner, and help locally with the Period Project, making feminine supplies available to homeless and low-income women. Even as the Coronavirus stopped on-site volunteering the members of Altrusa funded fresh food boxes to be sent to the homeless students of North Dallas high school whom attend programs at Incarnation House.

The Club members also donate to the Reagan Lorenzen Scholarship Fund, in the name of a former beloved club president, which provides scholarships to first-generation college students graduating from the Irma Rangel Leadership School for Girls located next to Fair Park. Scholarships of $1,000 are awarded to deserving graduates and this year a suitcase was given to each of the 2020 graduates for them to pack for college in style.

Meals on Wheels, Shared Housing, Human Rights Initiative (HRI) and Aberg Literacy are a few of the many non-profits Altrusa of Downtown Dallas pairs up with to make the City of Dallas a better place to work and live.

Members come from a variety of backgrounds and careers and invite anyone interested in serving the Dallas Community to come to a Monthly lunch to learn more. See the club’s website or the Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Facebook page for more information, or text 972-880-5571.

Mentoring for new Dallas business leaders will be a focus this year, so if you or someone you know is just starting a business or career, it’s a great time to join Altrusa!

Congratulations to these 2020-21 CLUB OFFICERS

Karen Washington, President:

Naomi Ayala, President – Elect

Ann Worthy – Vice President Fundraising

Terri Richards Pescatori, Vice President Communications

Carol Kilman, Vice President Membership

Marge Camstra, CPA, Vice President Service

Nicole Leboeuf, Parliamentarian

Suzanne Buss, Secretary

Angela Coronia, CPA, Treasurer

Debbie Tull, Immediate Past President


Judy Porter, MBA, is an award-winning volunteer and local writer and Public Relations specialist who promotes locals small businesses, non-profits and individuals.

Contact her at:

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Rise Nyren, on left, has been tutoring students for nearly two decades, from 1st grade through college. She attended the graduation of one of her students at SMU last year, in 2019. Her advice to parents can help them be the best Home School Teachers they can be. She's made a list of Top Ten Tips for Home School Teachers she is happy to share.

Home Schooling Parents Take Comfort: Professional Tutor Rise Nyren can Help

Don’t tear your hair out – call for help! This Professional Tutor is ready to RISE to the occasion.

As parents all over America struggle to Home School their children, a veteran of the process can give true hope—and advice—to these new teachers.

Rise Nyren has been professionally tutoring children of all ages for nearly two decades. She is ready to help parents who are stuck inside with their children and desperate for help.

Born in New York, New York, Rise laughs, “I lived there all of six months!” She was raised along with her two sisters Jennifer Potts Nicholson and Julie Potts Hoffman in Southern California mostly, with a detour to Nebraska and to Chicago for one year each.

Growing up, Rise wanted to be an artist and a pediatrician or a veterinarian and was planning to adopt six children and having six of her own. She admits, “By the time I was in high school I had switched to the more practical interest of theater. LOL!”

At Tustin High School in Tustin, California, she was in cross country, on student council, and in the Thespian club. In theater she directed and acted in plays and oversaw costumes for large productions. She remembers, “I loved every aspect of the theater department!”

Few people know she won “Best One-Act Play” while in high school, playing a housewife who lives in a glass house, which closes in around her, representing the expectations of society stifling a person. It almost appears as a metaphor for what is happening today with parents quarantined in their homes and forced to teach their children subjects they know little about.

On the other end of the spectrum, Rise also played “Hot Lips Houlihan” in a production of Mash!

She briefly attended the University of Santa Barbara for a year and a half after high school as a theater major. “But, because I had to work, quit college to figure out a way to do theater, work, and attend college.”

She ended up at the University of North Texas. Rise majored in English literature and history and was nominated for English Undergraduate Student of the Year. She received many scholarships, including: the Ledbetter Scholarship, the Heritage Scholarship, the College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship, and the Department of English scholarship.

She was a member of the Golden Key and Phi Alpha Theta Honor Societies and was on the National Dean’s List and the President’s List.

After college, Rise took part in the ACT Houston at Dallas, an alternative teaching certification program in Dallas. She studied for the middle school generalist certification test offered in 2008, scoring a 280 out of 300.

She’s been a professional tutor since 2003. She understands that now, more than ever, her skills are needed.

She says, “I love tutoring and the difference I can make in children’s lives. It is amazing how much can be accomplished at home by combining different subjects and reinforcing their learning through writing across the curriculum.”

She explains, “My passion is to communicate and to reach out to others. That can mean to interpret literature or history to children, to learn a new language, or to act in a play by August Strindberg. I often teach children, but I love to communicate to everyone.”

Although she works mainly with children, she even helped a student throughout his time at SMU to obtain his college degree.

She raised her daughter, Hannah, as a single mother, and is proud of her. Hannah is a Digital Marketing Manager in Boston and Rise says, “She loves books, also!” In fact, the toughest time in Rise’s life was when she was left alone to raise her little girl. She overcame it with activity: “I threw myself into the kind of mom I’d always wanted to be and took in a few extra children to give them a wholesome, educational environment.”

Rise has lived all over north Dallas. “I lived on historical Swiss Avenue near Lakewood when I first moved to Dallas. I love Lakewood! A great walking neighborhood!” She’s also lived in Carrollton and in Plano in a few neighborhoods: Bunker Hill Estates, The Marquis (condominiums at Park and Preston), Parker Road Estates.

At home, Rise lives with her miniature Dachshund, Sparkle, ten years old, who she says is extremely loyal and friendly. To relax, Rise writes poetry. If she could meet anyone, she says she’d like to like to meet those who have great wisdom: C.S. Lewis, Sir Isaac Newton, Anne Bronte.

Rise hopes in five years, she’ll still be happily teaching and sharing with her students.  And in ten years, “I will be working or retired overseas. Ideally, I will have a combination of both with part-time remote work.”

For today, she is happy to help parents who are going stir crazy with trying to teach their own children. She has a Top Ten Tips list for parents who are teaching their children at home.

Contact her at

Or text 859-684-0870 for advice or help. Just know that you are not alone – there IS help.


Judy Porter, MBA, is a former teacher and a Dallas writer who loves to share stories about local heroes, non-profits and businesses.

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As the kicker for SMU's football team, Brad Namdar had multiple opportunities to meet the school's biggest fan, former President Bush. Brad kicked the team to a bowl championship in 2012, his second: he also helped Texas Tech win a Bowl game in 2008. To relax in college, Brad made scented candles and now his wares are being sold in Neiman Marcus stores. He spends his free time volunteering in dozens of local agencies.

Former Mountainview Soccer Coach Brad Namdar Lights the World Up with his Successful Candle Business, and Volunteering at 30 Local Agencies

Brad Namdar is a Renaissance Man.

The proud owner of two college Football Bowl Championship rings, he is also a former soccer player, Estagio for FC Dallas, College Soccer Coach, former championship figure skater, and has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu. He loves collecting coins and stamps and singing Frank Sinatra songs. His latest success has been in the art world and Home Décor. His scented luxury candles are a hit and the sweet smell of success is strong.

A proud Texan, born in Medical City Dallas, he is a first generation American born and raised in Dallas, Texas. His parents are Persian. 

He currently lives in Uptown but was raised in Plano, along with his older sister Mora. He graduated from Plano West, where he admits, “I did just about everything: football, wrestling, Debate team, French Club, and I was a Select soccer player soccer to be on the US Youth National Pool Player.” He wanted to grow up to be many things: a professional soccer player, NFL Quarterback or kicker, President of the United States, an attorney, a successful businessman, “Even a secret agent like 007, or an actor!” Brad admits with a laugh. Deep down he knew he just really wanted to help others.

He attended Texas Tech in the fall of 2007 and played college football under Head Coach Mike Leach. His team won the Gator Bowl in January of 2008. Brad transferred into SMU in 2008 and helped the Mustangs win the BBVA Compass Bowl under Head Coach June Jones in 2012. 

Academically, Brad was awarded the William J. O’Neil Business Journalism Scholarship at SMU and the winner of the SMU Big Ideas grant and scholarship which included receiving awards from the White House in 2010, CBS’ “Texan with Character,” and among countless other awards and honors. Brad helped promote the “Dream Big” program and it spread like wildfire to 11 college campuses, providing scholarships for many other college students. Additionally, during his undergraduate studies, where he earned his Journalism Degree and Philosophy Minor, he was also the Estagio for FC Dallas Estagio; the first in the history of US Soccer and MLS for FC Dallas under HC Schellas Hyndman and USDA Academy Head Coach Oscar Pareja, and a Private Kicking Coach and Soccer Coach at St. Mark’s School of Texas.  .

After Brad’s undergraduate studies he became the SMU Men’s Soccer Director of Operations for two years, where Brad continued his education, receiving a Masters in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management from SMU in 2014 during which time he became a license Mediator and received his Executive Business Coaching Certification in 2013.

While in college, to decompress, he began making scented candles. He learned how to do it from googling it and eventually his dorm room was so full of candles his teammates told him he should sell his wares. A business was born, and this year Neiman Marcus featured his candles in their Black Friday sales.

As busy as he was, he admits his toughest year came in 2014 when he took a job as a Finance and Accounting Teacher and Head Boys Soccer Coach at North Dallas High School in 2014. Dealing with hundreds of students—some in rival street gangs—plus lesson plans, after school soccer practices, soccer games on the road and an administration he found unsupportive, Brad did his best to keep positive. “I gave everything I had to the kids and the school,” he says proudly, “But I learned what was wrong with the bureaucracy in education and what holds our kids back.” After North Dallas, Brad Coached College Soccer for 1 year at Mountain View College as the Head Men’s and Women’s Soccer Coach (the youngest college soccer head coach in the country at the time), and after the season, he decided to pursue his business opportunities to take a break from the field. 

One thing that hasn’t gone away is his love for business and for his fiancé’ Pia Lara. Although they attended the same University, they met on Facebook. Pia was the captain of the SMU Swim team, and graduated with her Bachelor’s in Business and French, then earned an MBA from SMU's Cox School of Business. Brad says “She’s out of my league. I’m a lucky guy.”

The two traveled to the UN last weekend when Pia was invited to attend the National Hispanic Summit. Brad was invited to attend as an ally for the Hispanic and Latino community regarding Business and Political Affairs due to his success being an entrepreneur. The two said the experience was phenomenal. 

Brad is the CEO of Namdar Décor, The House of Namdar, and has other ventures including consulting, he named his first company PRSB LLC, after his beloved family dogs Pepe, Romeo, Simba and Bella. 

He is most known for two of his primary businesses, the House of Namdar Art House and Namdar Décor – Luxury Candle Fragrance Company/Home Décor.

As president of the Namdar Group his Consulting Practice, Brad says his passion in life is to help people. He’s already assisted over 30 non-profits. At just 30 years old Brad has experience in International Trade and Commerce and the manufacturing supply chain, wholesale, distribution and commerce. He’s happy to coach others in these areas, having been mentored and guided by others in his journey to a successful business.

He's met a lot of famous people in his coaching and business worlds, but Brad says he wishes he could have known his grandfathers who passed away before he had the chance to meet them. He’d love to play poker with the “old school Hollywood legends” and actors like A Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Christopher Walker, and Frank Sinatra if possible.


Few people know Brad is a state champion figure skater, earning a gold medal in 1998 at the Level Free Style 3, or that he has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do & Kung Fu. He also collects coins, currency notes, and stamps which says he knows makes him sound like an old man. He even did a Stand-Up Comedy routine in front of a sold-out crowd at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU and can still kick of 60-yard field goal and juggle a soccer ball 100 times without the ball hitting the ground.

He admits challenges and tough times in athletics as a coach and a player, as a teacher, a family member, a business owner, and a philanthropist have made him who he is today, and looks forward to a future where he can continue helping others through his coaching and mentoring. “No experience is a bad experience,” he says, “because without the bad ones we don’t know the good ones. When you have a bad experience, you can learn from it, and become a stronger person because of it.” 

What does the future hold? “I see myself still helping people and being married, with kids.  Who knows what endeavors I will be pursuing then? But I can guarantee you this, I will be pushing to grow and will continue doing everything I can to keep helping others.”

Got a question for Brad? See him on Social Media:

Twitter: @bradnamdar

Instagram: @bradnamdartx



Judy Porter lives in Dallas and writes about local heroes. Contact her at


Senior High School Student Tia Einhorn is Creating New Ways to Help Children of Disabled Parents

Raised in a home with a disabled mother, Tia grew up with a sensitivity for the needs of others. “By the time I reached kindergarten, I had already grown accustomed to opening doors for others and carrying their bags – behaviors that do not typify five-year-olds. The nature of my upbringing, having a keen thoughtfulness, exposed me to the impact of service.” 

That has led to a life of service, both in her school and within her Jewish Community and the Dallas community as well. Even on the weekends, when most kids sleep in, Tia is out helping others, like participating in Friendship Circle, a Jewish organization that brings together children with physical disabilities and those wishing to serve. Tia modestly says, “I just go and play with the kids.” But she adds, “My service to others has taught me to keep an open heart and open mind with each person I encounter–not every struggle is visible.”

She’s raised money for a school in Malawi, has volunteered numerous times at Vogel Alcove, a daycare for homeless children, and worked for hurricane relief for Houston. Now she is working to find a way to connect children of parents with disabilities to each-other so they can be supported as she has been by her community. Helping others through tough times like she’s lived through has molded Tia’s present and future.

Tia credits a popular movie she enjoyed as an eight-year-old that inspired her to seek a career helping others. “I saw ‘Legally Blonde’ and fell in love with the beauty, glamour, and ‘pinkness’ of Reese Witherspoon’s character,” she admits with a laugh, “I was captivated by Elle Woods’ ambition–-her persistence to achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer.”

Soon she became her family’s ‘lawyer in-training.’ “I would write ‘contracts’ and persuaded the parties involved to sign on the dotted lines. My parents supported me in my legal endeavors and supplied me with legal notepads and “sign here” stickers. In time, I expanded my services to include friends and neighbors.” Although her pursuit of law began as playful fun, it has matured into an earnest journey. She started reading her aunt’s law dictionaries and watching videos covering court cases, and TV dramas like Law and Order. At events she would bombard every lawyer in sight with questions written in her glittery, purple notepad. Now at seventeen, she’s witnessed the justice systems’ failure in supporting vulnerable minors, especially in cases involving the foster care system and children with disabilities. Tia now hopes to become an attorney who protects children.

Born in Petach, Tikvah Israel, and raised in Shoham until Tia came to America at the age of five, the daughter of immigrants, English was not her first language. The family lived in Virginia Beach, and moved to Dallas as Tia was entering the 7th grade. She has one older brother, Roy, 19, who is attending his dream college, NYU, where he’s studying Film and TV Production. “I couldn’t be any happier for him!” Now it’s her turn to get into the college of her choice.

A senior at Yavneh Academy of Dallas where she is Captain of the Varsity volleyball team, Tia is also senior managing editor of the school’s award-winning student newspaper, “The Bulldog Print.” She obtained that top job after climbing the leadership ranks, starting as a reporter freshman year. And she’s an active member of BBYO - the largest Jewish youth group organization in America, and has held numerous leadership roles, this year as Vice President. She is also serving as North Texas-Oklahoma’s 35th Regional Vice President.

She oversees all events for the region’s 900+ members and has planned and coordinated two conferences with over 200 Jewish high school attendees from Dallas, Fort Worth and Tulsa. She enjoys knowing that she can give back to an organization that gave so much to her.

As important as her past endeavors are, Tia is most excited about her current project. She is searching for ways to connect children of parents with disabilities and other medical issues in the DFW area to each-other so they can be supported as she has been by her community. “I know I was fortunate to have good people around me as my parents went through their medical difficulties,” Tia says. Helping others through tough times like she’s lived through has molded Tia’s present and future. With hopes of expanding her support, she aspires to, one day, have an established organization which will provide additional support to these children. Her biggest dream is for that circle to expand and grow into helping many kids around the state and beyond. She wishes for that dream to coincide with her future career as a lawyer as she will be able to provide more ways of support.

Last year, Tia was accepted into a competitive internship program at StandWithUs, an organization educating others about Israel. With over 475 applicants, only 100 juniors and seniors are accepted. Tia thought she’d apply as a junior and then when she didn’t get accepted, she’d re-apply as a senior, but she was surprised to be accepted right away. As part of the high school program, Tia says she was given a platform within her community to inform others on the issue. 

Tia has served the Jewish and Dallas communities in various ways, including a book drive where over 2,000 books were collected to be sent to Israel to teach young children English. Tia and a fellow Dallas intern presented the project at various schools and synagogues, using the book drive as an opportunity to educate others. Receiving an overwhelming response from the community, more books than could travel were donated. The team decided to give back to their own community - distributing the extra books to underprivileged neighborhoods in Dallas. As they dispersed the additional books, they used it as a time to educate those unaware of Israel’s impact on the world.

Tia is taking her future seriously and hopes to continue her volunteering as she attends college. She has visited several college campuses including George Washington University, the University of Miami and the University of Maryland. Her dream college is Tulane University in Louisiana where she hopes to major in Legal Studies and Business. After college, she intends to go to Law School with her goal to open a non-profit firm, to help others who can’t afford a lawyer.

She hopes serving others will open doors for her, just as she has been opening doors for others since she was five. “Volunteering and making my parents proud,” is Tia’s goal, “and start living my best life,” just like Elle Woods.

Want more information about helping support children of disabled parents? Email Tia at

(photos sent to


Writer Judy Porter lives in Dallas and can be contacted at  

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Nicole "Nic" Cronkite has volunteered in hundreds of different organizations in the past few years and says, “I did everything, from a date auction for the Dallas Dietician Association fundraiser to trail work, managing booths, stretching long distance racers, yoga with kids, working at Twelve Hills Reserve and volunteering with Operation Turkey and the Christmas Soup Mobile Angel.” She finds Joy in helping others to stay healthy so they can volunteer too, and spread more joy!

Are You Living in Joy? Lakewood Resident Nicole "Nic" Cronkhite Can Show you How

Wellness: the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal; encouraging a lifestyle that promotes wellness 


Everyone should live in Joy.

Nicole “Nic” Cronkhite believes this and lives her life with a positive message, to help those who aren’t joyful to find their joy.

One way she creates joy is to help others. “I looove community service!” she says--and making the world a more beautiful place. “I pick up trash regularly and am always giving clothes, food or flowers to the homeless throughout the year. I give other donations to the Genesis Women’s Shelter. I volunteer with Operation Turkey, an all-volunteer organization that helps feed and clothe the hungry, and I donate to the Texas Food Bank.”

Nic grew up volunteering at the Tyler Cancer Center doing several tasks.  And she’s been a part of some local land conservation projects: Dallas Off-Road Bike Association, working on land maintenance, trail building, merchandising, and as an event coordinator. She also has volunteered with the Twelve Hills Nature Center off Mary Cliff Road; a local nature preserve that is described as “a little slice of heavenly tranquility.” 

She says, “If there is ever anything or anyone that I see I can help with, I usually do. Afterall... Everything is better when we can come together and create better environments!”


Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling at a friend who feels down; listening to someone depressed or in pain; or helping someone with a migraine overcome it without dramatic intervention. 

Nic helped a woman seeking migraine help who was going to try Botox injections to relieve her pain. “She decided to work with me first.  Through craniosacral therapy her head tension released, and cerebral spinal fluid flowed to where her body was able to heal, and function and the migraines ceased.”


Nic has a holistic approach to joy and teaches yoga. She currently helps two people who have had hip replacements. Through her guidance they have made a big recovery in the rehabilitation of their bodies with the new hardware while also creating strength, stability and awareness through the body.  

She works with several athletes establishing and maintaining proper muscle and body alignments through bodywork therapy and their assigned “homework.” “Now these athletes are able to perform at a higher level with great efficiency in the way their body moves in their sport and daily activities.”

Born in Tyler and raised most of her childhood in the country of east Texas in Flint, her family moved to the 'Big city' of Tyler when she was in the 8th grade. She has a sister, Courtney, 23, and brother Caleb, 21. Nic lives in Lakewood now.


Growing up, Nic says, “I had a lot of ideas as a kid, and all had something to do with being a part of something to help or shine in the world.” A career as a singer, business owner, animal vet and rescue, psychologist, fashion leader, all were considered. “I always had an intrinsic feeling that I was supposed to help people, animals and or the world.” At 23 she discovered her life’s goal: that she would help others through wellness!

Graduating from Robert E. Lee High School at 17 after concentrating in art and band, she left with some college classes already completed. She attended Tyler Junior College and then the University of North Texas; North Central Texas College, and a semester at TWU. She studied, art, business, general studies and psychology. This combination of courses helps her work with others, encouraging them to find their joy in different ways. 

A member of Oak Cliff Women in Business, the group seeks to strengthen the communal ties of the female business leaders and owners in the Oak Cliff area by fostering friendships first then supporting businesses of our friends. Nic works with several members of the group to keep them healthy and full of Joy, despite their stressful lives as business owners. Nic leads them in Yoga and meditation to help them stay strong mentally, spiritually and physically.


Nic has been through tough times herself but doesn’t focus on them anymore. “The lessons I gained from those times gives me an awareness of knowing myself and my life and I am incredible grateful for the growth and perseverance I experienced.” She notes that each obstacle in life requires different tactics. “Just acknowledge what feels right and move forward in the direction of your life.”

One strategy is to be creative in your own life. Do what you love. Nic paints, creates art and dream catchers, and makes natural body care products like bath salts and muscle recovery salves. She takes time to read and write and loves to do little things for others or the community to add some brightness. Nic enjoys staying active with various exercises and mountain biking while staying balanced with yoga and meditation.

A single entrepreneur, she would love to be a foster mom one day, but until then she has her “Animal babies” to keep her happy: Burma shave her 10.5 yr old dog, is a basenji mutt who came to Nic at 5 weeks old; Wicked her black cat that turns three on Halloween, and Apollo her half-moon rainbow beta fish and he is about four.

Having pets is one source of Joy for Nic – and most people –according to research. Just owning a dog can help you live longer. She says she uses her own life journey of becoming--and how good it feels--to help others. “I love seeing people live in joy. To feel good is such a delight. I am just honored that I get to be a part of their journey--and they a part of mine.”


A long-term member of Oak Cliff Women in Business, you can meet Nic at their next meeting on November 6 at 6:00 p.m. at Art Mission Oak Cliff. See the OCWIB Facebook page or Call 214-414-1069.

To help with Operation Turkey this season, call: 1-866-OpTurk1 or

Nic has a retreat coming up at the end of this month. Ever feel like a black sheep in your family? Come to the all inclusive Black Sheep weekend retreat, connect with self, nature and others who feel the same while we step out of the societal ordinary and into an integrated self through the holiday and life hustle.

To contact Nic directly, see her website 
Or contact her at:


Judy Porter writes about local heroes, nonprofits and small businesses. Contact her at  Her specialty is getting high school seniors into the college of their choice through well-written student biography. Contact her for more info.

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(l-r) Melanie Bledsoe, Cole McCarter, Amanda Smith, Robbie Randle and Andee Sloot worked together last month to present a business workshop for Dallas area female entrepreneurs. McCarter is President of the local Toastmasters Club that meets at the same Intuit Business site twice a month and invited the workshop participants to join him to learn how to speak well in public, and without fear. At 28, he hopes to inspire others like him who are working hard to be a success in both business and in life. Ms. Smith is the CEO and Founder of Dallas Girl Gang, a Facebook group of women who support and encourage one other.

“Challenges make life interesting. Overcoming them make life worthwhile.”

Cole McCarter sat dejected on a park bench, ready to throw in the proverbial towel. As a soccer coach, he had a bunch.

He’d just gotten off the phone with him mother, tearfully admitting to her that he’d screwed up his life and he didn’t know what to do next. A college graduate, he’d finally quit his horrible job, making minimum wage as  a soccer coach, giving up the "joy" of being yelled at by irate parents who wanted their little players to have more time in the game on the field – regardless of the fact that their kids rarely made it to team practice.

He’d left his previous job as a Property Management Assistant to do this thing he loved – soccer – only to end up hating it. Now he was forced to look at his bleak future without enough money to pay rent for his 300 square foot apartment in Houston. Born in Irving and raised in Coppell, Cole had moved to Houston with his college girlfriend. But she was long gone, leaving him depressed, alone, and now, unemployed.

As he hung up his cell phone, not knowing where to turn, he began walking home from the soccer field and was at a museum just killing time and musing on his options when he saw an Open House sign across the street. The large home was beautiful, and with nothing else to do, he crossed the road to see it.

The first thing he noticed was the Real Estate agent. “She looked like she had pajamas on,” he says now with a laugh. “And the home was a large, formal one, selling for over $600,000. She was totally under-dressed for the showing and I thought to myself, ‘Heck – I can dress better and present this home better than that! I could do this job.’

Cole had learned how to sell when he was leasing apartments. He plunged into the Real Estate business and became a consultant, learning all he could. Within two years he was selling homes but barely getting by. He moved on to a new company to become more successful with new brokers, even though he wasn’t quite convinced his co-workers were completely trustworthy. He says, “I knew in my heart that this wasn’t a completely good move for me—it was all about working too many hours to make a lot of money.”

Full Commission jobs mean you don’t get paid if you don’t produce, and Cole ended up in the ER twice for panic attacks, knowing all the while that something wasn’t right. His integrity was being challenged. He spent many sleepless nights wondering how he would afford his next month’s rent – or even food. He began moonlighting as an Uber driver and delivering Chinese food later at night. Drinking and drugs were easy ways to numb the pressure of his life, but it left him more depressed than ever.

As time dragged on, he completed one more year, and another eight months with his partner with questionable business practices--and was miserable.

Back at his mother’s home in Dallas for Christmas in 2017 he made a deal with himself: Earn $50,000 in the next month and move to Dallas, where he’d start his life anew.

"You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.” – Jim Rohn

Cole closed three deals that month and was on his way to Dallas. But he was right about his boss: some of his shady deals cost Cole a chunk of his commissions. Still, Cole was determined to create a healthy life for himself that included steady income and less stress. Years of dead-end jobs had taken a toll on his mental and physical health, and his self-esteem. He was “always the kid other kids picked on in school,” and he knew if his life was to get better, it was time to work on recovering from that childhood pain and his more recent job losses.

He became more determined and focused than ever. A friend and confidant, Jordan Weingrad, recommended he listen to Motivational Speaker Jim Rohn, and Cole listened to his messages of hope daily on his drive to work. Rohn’s lessons were so powerful that Cole became eager to turn his life around. And he wanted to learn how to become an inspirational public speaker, “So maybe I could have the opportunity to change someone else’s life as he did mine.”

He Googled Toastmasters and discovered a meeting was held right across the street from his apartment. He took advantage of  his god luck and in just a few short months he was much more comfortable making speeches. Last year he was surprised by his Toastmaster’s group when they said he was ready to be their president and lead them in 2019. “So humbling,” he admits, “I told them they were crazy, but here I am!” His Toastmasters group began with five people and now has 25 members. Cole’s goal is to add eight more members by the end of October. But he thinks 18 would be even better.

Now he says he knows he owes a debt of gratitude to Joseph Diosana and Alex McCauley with Keller Williams Memorial and his current broker and partner Chris Ohlig for their faith in him, and for teaching him how to be successful in the business. He plans to pay it forward.

 "Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live." – Jim Rohn

And he’s on a personal quest: The 75-day Hard Program. It requires a strict diet of healthy food and no alcohol, plus two 45-minimum workouts a day (one outside and one inside) and drinking a gallon of water a day (nothing flavored) and reading 10 pages a day from a self-help or business book.

Cole knows it sounds hard, but he wants to do it to increase his mental toughness and tone his body, with a goal of adding ten pounds of muscle. A Daily “Progress picture” is part of the plan, to see ongoing progress from Day One to the 75th day. A few of his friends are also on the program, so he feels like he’ll have the support he needs to maintain it. He finishes three days before his 29th birthday.

Cole looks back on the past four years and wishes he’d had his epiphany sooner, that, as Rohm says, "Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment," and that he hadn’t floundered for five years after college unsuccessfully trying to make money. Now he’s ready to make a life. He knows he learned from those trials and tribulations and challenges to give him the lessons he needed to move forward.

He’s up every morning with a new mantra: to be the best he can be and help as many people as he can as he lives his life. As his inspiration Jim Rohn said, "Either you run the day, or the day runs you." Cole is running this race to win.

Cole’s Toastmasters group meets at noon on the first and third Wednesdays of the month at Intuit located at 5601 Headquarters Drive, Plano, TX 75024. Contact him for more information: or call him at: 713-476-1484.


Judy Porter, MBA, writes inspirational stories about local heroes, small businesses and non-profits. Contact her at

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Tami Brown Rodriguez, far left, is inviting her neighbors and friends to join her at her home on National Night Out October 1. An Alaskan Native, she is now a transplanted Texan dedicated to making her neighborhood and state a friendly, safe place to live and even ran for City Council last year.

Alaskan native, Cancer Survivor, Business Owner Tami Brown Rosriguez Now Makes Dallas her Forever Home.


Tami Brown Rodriguez wasn’t born in Texas, but she got here as fast as she could--and probably came the farthest of any transplanted Texan you know--she grew up in Alaska!


Now that she’s no longer a greenhorn–-a Cheechacow in Alaskan terms–-because she’s been a Texan for over three decades, she’s making up for lost time. Next week she’s hosting the Neighborhood Night Out On October 1st at her home along with the Dallas Police Department’s Northeast Substation and three different Lake Highlands neighborhoods: Easton Place, Forestgrove, and the east end of Lake Gardens. Local celebrities are also invited, including Easton Place President Jan Shaffer, City Councilwoman Paula Blackmon and two others who ran against Tami in the City Council race. It was Tami’s first foray into local politics, and she came in third.


Tami likes to do things in a big, fun way. She says she’s planning on two magical hours, “With Bratwurst, burgers, ice cream and maybe a bubble machine for the kids!”


Born in Anchorage where her “hippy” parents moved to after their “shot-gun” wedding--Mom was 17, Dad 21—she learned how to survive, even thrive, under bleak circumstances.


“My dad loved the outdoors, so we sort of lived outside. We had no electricity or plumbing in our house.” Tami became an expert at living with little, learning from her father, a fish and wildlife officer, her first teacher. “He joined the police Academy to become a State Trooper. That’s why I support local police with a vengeance.”


She grew up in a small town of 3,000 where the junior and senior high used the same school building for a year. The high school kids arrived at 5:30 a.m. for classes and left by 11:00 and the junior high kids attended school from 12 noon to 8 p.m. In the middle of winter, the sun only shines from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Alaska, so this gave both groups of students some time outside in the sunshine.


Tami fudged her age at 14 and said she was 16 to become the manager of the Chocolate Chippery, a Kiosk in the local mall, where she sold cookies. In Junior High she’d work before school. In high school she’d work after school. She graduated from Chugiak High and says she was a typical nerd: an honors student, Class President, and involved in student body government since the 7th grade.


Heavily involved in the local church, Tami attended the United Methodist Church’s National Youth Ministry Organization and even became its President. That lead to a full scholarship to Concordia College in Oregon where she studied the Bible, Greek, Aramic and Hebrew. She wanted a business degree, only to discover her college credits weren’t transferable. She married a military man and moved with her husband often, attending multiple colleges in Washington state, Texas and Oklahoma and finally received a degree having earned 487 credits – more than double needed by most universities for a degree.


“By that time, I had already started my own business so I was simply there to learn what I was interested in, not what I thought I should.” She began her professional career in the Financial Services industry, and helped people buy the right Health and Life Insurance for their individual needs. She enjoyed helping people get out of debit and into a solid financial plan for their lives, and soon had seven offices in three states.


Her marriage ended and she returned to Texas to grow her consulting firm. While attending the farewell party of a former assistant she bumped into Daniel Rodriguez, who was invited by his client, a friend of her assistant. “It was a dark and stormy night and Daniel was supposed to be meeting up with someone else, and I walked in.” She’s not sure whatever happened to Daniel’s blind date. The two talked all throughout the party and began dating a year later. They’ve been together for almost a decade.


At the time they met, Tami was planning to become a lawyer. She loves constitutional law and was about to take the LSAT when her health began to fail. She hadn’t been feeling well for years, and while on a business trip to Iran, she was brought to the hospital by her host family. She says the Iranian government and people treated her like royalty. She had been traveling all over the country, including the Caspian Sea to see the 2,000-year-old water features and 40 feet of coral underneath the giant water systems. She said whenever people overheard her English, they would shout, “We love America!”

She remembers, “My memory was getting weird. I’d see pictures of myself and ask, ‘when did we do that?’ I couldn’t walk. My host family took me to the doctor. I had been feeling poorly for almost five years. And then, with just one test the doctor diagnosed my Cancer.” They wanted to treat Tami there in Iran, but she was afraid to allow the doctors to do it. She returned home to America but found traditional medicine to be ineffective, all the while being told she’d probably only live another three years.


Her health was deteriorating rapidly, so she took matters into her own hands. She read the book, “The Gerson Therapy,” and it changed her life. By following the book’s diet program and juicing, her health began to get better.


After numerous trips to the ER, her last was on July 4, 2014. Tami woke up in the ER with an IV in her Femoral artery and was furious that her DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) was not honored. She was angry that she hadn’t been allowed to “let go.” But later, in retrospect, she realizes it was not her time. She had dropped down to 99 pounds.

Once she started juicing, she slowly recovered her weight and strength and has been better ever since.

She and Daniel decided to help others and took in two foster children who were in a crisis.  They took the siblings out of a shelter and home with them, and worked with them for a year to help them heal from the trauma they’d lived through, using NLP, Neurolinguistic Programming. Tami is a Master Practitioner and helped the kids remap their lives so they could be ready for adoption. It worked, and she knows the two children will have a brighter future now because of her help in their lives. She hopes to help more kids in the future.


She considers her ability to remap people’s Neurology a gift and continues to work with troubled individuals working to better their lives.


Tami says she enjoyed the run for City Council last year and plans to run for another office in the future. She and Daniel will soon sell their current home and downsize to one a few miles away near Mockingbird and Greenville, but will remain in Dallas. And she’ll continue to be involved in the city, working to thwart election fraud so candidates will be elected legally. Her background in finance has her volunteering to be a fiscal watchdog to make sure Dallas taxes are spent wisely.


She has strong opinions about a lot of topics, including minimum wage. “I lose sleep over this!" She says, explaining, "Daniel and I are here in Texas because it’s friendly to business. If we increase minimum wage, we’ll be like Seattle, which now has the 2nd highest homeless rate, behind California.” 


For now, Tami is just excited to meet her neighbors on October 1. She plans to provide a warm Texas welcome and a fun event for all who come. Be sure to ask her about her fishing trips to Alaska, and how to gut a moose--that is, if you plan to hunt one in the future. Or you can ask her about her many travels. Tami has visited every state but New Hampshire, and has lived in 18 different cities; how many have you been to? 

Big Lake AK

Eagle River AK

Dallas TX




Decatur TX

Lawton OK

Killeen TX

Cache OK

Peachtree City GA

Memphis TX



Oakland CA

Santa Rosa CA

Seattle WA

Ellensburg WA

For more information about next Tuesday's National Night Out, contact Tami at:

Judy Porter lives in Dallas and write about local heroes, small businesses an non-profits. Contact her at

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Suzanne Buss met her husband, Nick, of England in West Virginia while they were both Geography students at WVU. From there they moved to California, Illinois, Pittsburgh and finally Texas, where Suzanne spends what little free time she has volunteering throughout the metroplex with multiple non-profit organizations. On Saturday she and Nick attended the Big 12 College Football kick off party benefitting the North Texas Food Bank.

Proud West Virginia University Mountaineer Hopes To Help Others Adjust To Life in The Big City

Country Roads led Suzanne Buss from her home in Penfield, New York, to the mountains of West Virginia and on to a wonderful life.

“Penfield was a nice place to grow up with my younger brother, David, who now lives in Fairfield, Connecticut, and younger sister, Allyson, who lives near Hershey, Pennsylvania – but I didn’t want to STAY there.”

Their father sold maps and globes to New York public schools. Suzanne thinks this must be where her love of geography and real estate started.

He was also a volunteer fireman and she marched together with him in all the local fireman’s parades, which may explain her love of volunteering, too.

Meanwhile her mother had a job working out of the home--unusual back in the day--so Suzanne remembers that she and her siblings “were the only kids in the neighborhood at home alone in the afternoon.”

But that had its perks. Suzanne says, “The Charlie Chip snack man would bring the delivery, and we would order EVERYTHING! My poor mother!” The company would deliver their potato chips and pretzels to businesses and homes, and Suzanne would order more fun snacks for the next delivery. But she admires her mother managing to work out of their home and raise the family, even after Suzanne’s father bought a restaurant and spent all his time working there. Suzanne worked there during weekends and all summer, which may explain her hard work ethic even to this day.

Her goal was simple: to get out of Rochester because she just knew in her heart, “There are bigger and better things out there, and places where it isn’t cloudy most of the time!”

She applied to colleges as far away as she could get and ended up at West Virginia University. She said she made her decision because the campus was so beautiful, and it had a strong Geography program, which she was happy to learn, “had cool people and great parties!” But she admits her father’s job as a map salesman may have influenced her a bit.

Both decisions led her to the love of her life, her husband Nick. He came over “The Pond” from England to get his master’s in Geography and Suzanne was the Geography Club president so in charge of entertaining the foreign students. She says, “Geography is big in England and most of the Geography professors at WVU were British.” They became instant friends and have been together ever since.

The two graduated and took off for a road trip across the country to San Jose, California.

Suzanne’s first job out of college was as a receptionist at a medical clinic. Nick worked in the early computer industry of Silicon Valley. Suzanne says it was a great time to be in California and a fun way to start their lives together.

They moved to Champaign-Urbana, Illinois so Nick could complete his Ph.D. in Economic Geography at the University of Illinois. It was a fun time for them, living in Married Student Housing with other young couples all in their 20’s. It was there that Suzanne got her start in Market Research and did some location analysis for pharmacy locations for Carle Foundation Hospital.

When Nick graduated, he got a job in Chicago and they moved to Downers Grove. Suzanne worked in Marketing for the Liver Transplant Program at Rush Presbyterian St Luke's Medical Center and almost completed a Master’s in Health Administration before her son was born.

The couple moved to Pittsburgh, PA to be closer to family and their daughter was born there. As a stay-at-home mom, Suzanne enjoyed her children’s playgroups, being a Sunday School teacher, on the PTA, and in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Life was good.

Then Nick got a job offer in Dallas. The couple moved to Plano, and after a decade, to Oak Cliff. Suzanne remembers, “I was trepidatious about the move, but after having been here 13 years, I LOVE Dallas! Such an exciting, growing, young, fun town!!! Full of some of the best people I’ve ever met!” 

A new friend who has an organization business invited her to help on one project and Suzanne loved the work. Together the women organize big homes to be more efficient, and often pack up and move homeowners from one home to another. Suzanne gets to go into some of the nicest neighborhoods in the city, and see some fantastic houses before some of the new owners move in.

Being in those gorgeous homes may have motivated Suzanne to become a Real Estate agent a few years ago, but she occasionally joins her friend on a project for some calming “organization therapy.”

Suzanne took her insurance license test when her two children were about to go off to college and worked helping people pick their Medicare insurance for four years. Then she decided to get her Real Estate license and continue insurance as an independent agent.

For the past two years, she’s been setting up her Real Estate Business and learning all aspects of it which requires a lot of reading – so now she’s ready to get out there and meet people and help them relocate from up north to Big D.

She admits being an independent agent can be lonely. However, she loves the perks: the freedom to set her own schedule, do things the way she wants to do them, and work as hard and long as she wants are great advantages.

When she’s not working Suzanne spends a lot of her time with others volunteering, because “helping people is the best part of my life now.” She’s a board member of the Oak Cliff Lions Club and the Committee Leader of the club’s Meals on Wheels program.

Last year she joined Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas, a businesswomen’s community service club that focuses on women and children in crisis and promotes Literacy throughout the city. She’s also a regular at Oak Cliff Women in Business, a networking group for businesswomen which meets monthly at different women-owned businesses south of the Trinity.

A proud Mountaineer, she attended the Big 12 Kickoff Bash downtown on Saturday to meet fans from her team’s rival schools, and can be seen all around town at different events like that one, as she works to become the Go To Real Estate agent for the West Virginia transplants like herself. As a happy “Cliffer” she wants her fellow WVU alumnae to know Dallas is a great place to live and work.

She says, “I’m grateful for my family supporting me in my adventures. I’m the luckiest girl in the world!” She'll attend the WVU Mountaineer Game Watch parties this fall to greet new Dallas residents and help them get acquainted with the area, the volunteer opportunities here in the Big City, and maybe help them buy a home like she has, in Texas, where there are plenty of country roads and where, to her, it’s “Almost Heaven” – even if it’s not West Virginia.


Want more information about the places you can volunteer with Suzanne? Contact her at or (903) 884-6881.

For Information on the WVU Game Watches see the DFW Mountaineer Facebook page. To Learn about Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas, see or the club's Altrusa International of Downtown Dallas Facebook page. Ladies can see more about Oak Cliff Women in Business on the group's Facebook page. View the Oak Cliff Lions Facebook page or  

Judy Porter, MBA, lives in Dallas and writes about local heroes, small businesses, non-profits and residents doing community service in the city. Contact her at: 

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Celeste's family loves being together and Celeste (second from right) plans to keep in touch although she'll miss her siblings if she gets into the college of her choice up in New York. As a community volunteer, full time senior high school student and working two part time jobs, Celeste is ready for the next step in her life: college, where she plans to study Graphic Design.

“Art enable us to find ourselves, and lose ourselves at the same time.” -- Thomas Merton

Celeste Gardner is a Renaissance Woman with big dreams and a big heart, and she is on her way to creating a beautiful life in graphic design.

A volunteer with the homeless, she has been serving at the “Bridge” downtown feeding the lost at the Stewpot. It’s not a one-and-done deal for her; she’s been volunteering there all throughout her high school career.

She’s also volunteered at an acting camp at the Bath House Cultural Center at White Rock Lake for six years, after attending the camp herself while in middle school. And she occasionally serves at the Salvation Army.

Born and raised in Dallas, she has lived in the Eastwood neighborhood, Rowlett, Highland Meadows, and now is back in Eastwood. Her volunteering might be a result of being the oldest of a big family including Lydia and Joseph, 12-year-old twins, four-year-old Kaiya, and stepsisters Allie and Simone.

And when she’s not volunteering or being the Big Sis, she’s reading or writing stories.  Her favorite class last year was English, and she loved her teacher, Ms. Dumas, so much that Celeste is currently taking her creative writing class. “I really just love hearing stories, telling stories, and analyzing stories in a way I would have never thought to before,” Celeste explains.

But most people see her as a Math nerd, since she doubled up in math her freshman year and took calculus in her sophomore year—rather unusual for an ‘artist.’  “Ever since I can remember art has always been a part of my life. I have been in plays at the Dallas Children’s Theater, and I have taken art and piano classes for as long as I can remember.” She’d love to meet comedian Jim Carey or actress Winona Ryder, both childhood idols.

Her plan now is to go to college to earn her degree in Graphic Design. She’s looking at applying to UT Austin, NYU, Texas A&M, or UNT Denton. But her dream school is the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.  “I’ve always wanted to attend an art school,” Celeste says, “and with graphic design as my ultimate goal, Pratt would be perfect for me!” The school originated in 1887 with programs primarily in engineering, architecture, and fine arts and has a satellite campus in both Manhattan and Utica, NY. Celeste feels heading north to another city would be a fun adventure, preparing her for her ultimate goal of building and owning her own graphic design company.

Celeste has been active in programs at Bishop Lynch High School, where she was on the cheerleading squad freshman and sophomore years and ran cross country her junior year. She was chosen as a school ambassador, to introduce the school to parents and prospective students, and give tours of the expansive campus. She also works part time at Campisi’s Italian restaurant on Mockingbird and she babysits to earn money for college.

Her life appears full and fun, but she admits it wasn’t always that way. In middle school she went through a time when she felt very isolated and she thought she didn’t really have a say or direction in her life. She says looking back, she knows she attended a very good middle school but that “It just wasn’t the right fit for me. The school was centered on academics and while I was involved in art and theater, I still felt creatively stifled.” But she says she’s happy now and encourages other students who feel stuck to hang in there, because life WILL get better.

Moving on to High School was the key for her: the combination of moving to a new school and Celeste getting a better understanding of herself led to her feeling a lot happier and more content than she was. 

And now she’s looking ahead five years, when she “hopefully will be receiving my degree in graphic design and possibly some form of architecture.” Then in 10 years, she plans to be creating her own graphic design company in a big city. She’d love to design logos for yoga studios, coffee shops, music companies and any other businesses, maybe even for non-profit agencies that work with the homeless.

Henri Matisse has said, "Creativity takes courage,” and Celeste has it. The sky is the limit for this Renaissance woman in a modern world – Celeste is on her way up: hopefully heading north to college, and then far beyond!


Judy Porter, MBA, is a writer who lives in Dallas and writes stories about local heroes, non-profits and small businesses. Contact her at