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Inspiring Stories from Aurora

The heart of our mission at VoyageDenver is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of Denver’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out Aurora’s rising stars below.

Danielle Thompson

My story starts with the birth of our tween daughter. I had a “nice camera” that I would pick up every so often, but when she was born I wanted to learn to take better photos of her. I started with an online class titled “Photographing Babies and Children” and since I had a built-in model in my daughter, I was able to really learn about my camera, photograph using manual settings, and how to manipulate light. I then inched my way into taking photos of other families and realized I still had a lot to learn, so I continued to take classes, and in Summer of 2010 we relocated out of state. This relocation allowed for a break in my full-time career (as a healthcare administrator) and that gave me the space to pursue a family photography business. After working hard to get my business up and running and trying to grow my client base, the opportunity came to relocate out of state again! That relocation brought us to the South Suburbs of Denver. Read more>>

Lucie Portilla

I was always thrilled when my teachers introduced anything body-related such as anatomy, physiology, or psychology in a school. As I grew older and life became more chaotic, I found movement a necessity in my self-care regime. I discovered weightlifting in my late teens and loved it. My stress level decreased, and I had more confidence not only inside the gym but every day. When I immigrated to the USA in 2012 from the Czech Republic, I was excited to share my knowledge with others. I also learned the importance of certification and education. After completing the NSCA-CPT Certificate and Personal Training Certificate at CCA, I transferred to MSU Denver and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I became interested in preventing diseases through lifestyle choices. Later, I found out that Eastern Medicine was a great compliment to Western Medicine, and in fact, that it is the best way to take care of the human body. Today, I work closely with physicians, physical therapists, nutritionists and do not hesitate to recommend alternative medicine practitioners if they can benefit my clients. Read more>>

Cynthia Valenzuela

I’m the kind of person that has never known what I wanted to be when I grew up. Honestly, I still don’t and I think part of it is because I’m very curious and I love learning about anything and everything. Growing up, I loved school no matter the subject, but I especially gravitated towards the performing arts (music and theatre). My dad’s side of the family is very musical so my brother and I definitely inherited those musical genes. I learned to sing, dance, and play the piano at a very young age. Theatre, on the other hand, was something I discovered on my own. When I started middle school, I was super quiet and didn’t have a lot of friends. Then I saw the school musical with my class and thought “well I can do that” and I so badly wanted to prove to my classmates that I could sing. I don’t know, maybe I thought it would make me look cool or something—Which is hilarious because depending on the school, theatre kids aren’t “cool.” So that definitely backfired. Read more>>

Micheala Sanders

I was in a car accident in July of 2000, just two days after the Fourth of July. It was during a time when car insurance was set up to care for their clients. I was able to explore many alternative providers from chiropractic to acupuncture. One of my favorite physical therapy add-ons was the massage therapy. When I was a little girl, my oldest sister and I used to walk on my dad’s back. As I laid receiving my first massages, I thought I can do this! I asked the massage therapist lots of questions about where she went to school and what she liked about it. I set out to search for a massage school. I ended up at the Colorado School of Healing Arts because they offered a nurturing holistic vibe, taught towards multiple learning styles, and accepted financial aid in the traditional sense. During my time at CSHA I was able to heal myself through just receiving massage and energy bodywork. It became the basis and the vision for my business, “We Heal Ourselves”. Read more>>

Dr. Eleonora Cahill

As a child, I struggled to find my voice. I was that kid who could never quite access their emotions. When I was angry, I would cry, which quite frankly infuriated me. People around me would see my tears and offer comfort, misreading my emotions based on my outward display. Fortunately, my mother was gifted with attunement. She had that natural ability to read my ebbs and flows, the rhythms of my emotions. She was the first person to teach me that my voice mattered and that I could learn the skills of self-expression. From her, I learned what it means to be a teacher. I began my career as a high school language arts teacher, and I loved it. I saw firsthand the powerful ways that literacy leads to liberation – of thought, emotion, ideology, hope. At the same time, I had this nagging reminder that quality academics was not enough. I considered my own childhood and was acutely aware of the impact that loss, poverty and trauma can have on a developing child. I saw this in the students I was teaching as their stories unfolded on the pages of the assignments that I gave them. It was a lot to hold, and I felt a calling to do more. Read more>>

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