I thought I loved reading as a child, but I soon learned through standardized testing that I wasn't very good at it. I would get paralyzed reading the multiple choice answers and couldn't figure out what the "right" answer ever was. I stopped reading recreationally in 4th grade and my attention turned to video games and math.

However, one day I had a reading list in high school that I could pick from. My sister pointed out The Catcher in the Rye as a book I should probably read. I fell in love with the book's unique style and prose. I quickly devoured the text and asked my sister to recommend more. She then gave me a copy of Adrian Tomine's comic series Optic Nerve. There I discovered a variety of stories from different perspectives that helped me fall in love with alternative comics.

I could not stop reading books and soon realized that stories were the way we related to each other and ourselves. I learned to love reading and soon became passionate about helping others discover a love of writing and fiction.

This would create a passion for me to tell the stories of others and myself through my time in Journalism during college. I loved interviewing people and discovering their stories. Soon I realized the struggles that are universal to all of us. Am I doing good work? How can I improve? What's my next step?

I spent years teaching creative writing after my journalism career to children 7-18 and learning about the power of an expressivist pedagogy to help a child discover his/her own voice. I had the fortune of seeing writers become more confident and adept at their craft through free-writing and positive reinforcement.

I now attend UC Berkeley's Masters in Social Welfare program to build on my Comic Book Club curriculum, a way to teach children social and emotional skills while maintaining an expressivist pedagogy. This work represents the passions in my life to give voice to the voiceless and the power those stories have on ourselves and those around us.

Stories can do so much more than simply entertain us; they offer a way for us to elevate our current selves into the person we want to be.