If you've been following my blog, you know that I enjoy the opportunity to reconnect with alumni and learn what is happening in their lives. On Easter Sunday, I had the privilege of spending the afternoon with Erica Hanna Mayer, class of 2002, at the end of a holiday weekend spent with family. (Erica's mom, Teresa Hanna, is Waldorf College's cheerleading coach.) This hometown-girl-made-good is now a promotions producer for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her spare time she continues to edit performance soundtracks for high school cheering squads and lend her impressive communication skills to charitable causes.
Erica excels at directing music videos, videography, photography and social marketing. Most impressive, however, is the way she uses those skills to improve the lives of others. She is currently raising money to build wells on behalf of an organization called My Charity Water http://mycharitywater.org/ericamayer, a cause she took on as a way of celebrating her 29th birthday.
In her words: All of my birthdays have always been about stuff. Stuff I don't want, stuff I definitely don't need. And to be honest, I hardly even remember what I got last year. So this year, I'm giving my birthday up.... I'm turning 29 years old, and instead of asking for gifts, I'm asking for $29 or more from everyone I know. It's not going to me, though. All of it is going to build freshwater wells for people in developing nations.
One way she is helping raise money is by using her photography skills; and on Sunday, she treated me to one of her photography sessions. As you can see by my new profile photo, Erica is incredibly talented. She has a knack for capturing her subject's personality as she digitally captures his or her image. Naturally creative, Erica sees a setting or location like an artist sees a canvas - full of possibilities shaped by angles, colors, light, and proportion – a backdrop for beauty. To Erica, the world is full of beautiful people and beautiful things; so that is what she brings to life through her lens.
As a promotions producer for WCCO, she helps safeguard the station's brand, shaping the way viewers regard this CBS-affiliate through the impressions and images associated with it on screen. Erica knows that brands are communicated as what they are, not created from things they are not. What makes her an Emmy and Promax award-winning producer are the same qualities that make her a wonderful photographer: She has the ability to highlight the essence of people, showcasing who they are, not conveying them as something they are not.
I sense that Erica is in the midst of renewed vocational discernment. Eight years after her college graduation and on the verge of her 29th year, she is experiencing the periodic questioning that no one escapes. At some point in life - or even at multiple points - each person introspectively ponders: Am I using who I am and what I can do to meet the world's needs in the best possible way?
Her questioning reflects my questioning right now, and I'm thankful that she has captured this moment in time for me. I look at the photos she's taken of me (my favorite is shown above) and think: Is that really me? Who am I and what can I be doing to meet this world's needs in the best possible way?
Thanks, Erica. I had a blast.
P.S. - Please visit the site for her cause and help provide water to people in need.