Part of why I chose to be a photographer of women is because I believe that it is a unique way to not only bring out the beauty that I believe every woman possesses, but also because sharing their stories is a way to empower, inspire, and encourage other women and young girls.
I was so inspired to get to know Vicky and learn more about her journey as a young, single mom to now a soon-to-be graduating DrPHC of UC Berkeley. And to learn that it was also another woman who inspired and mentored her many years ago to embark on this journey makes her story even more empowering.
I am so proud to share with you all a few of Vicky's images and a behind the scenes look from her photoshoot with Heartbox Photography as well as the story of her journey through her own voice.
Here's to celebrating the beauty, strength, and stories of all women.
Photography: Heartbox Photography
Hair/makeup: Kalani Brown
"Choosing to do be photographed is not something that comes naturally to me - usually I am the person who wants to hide in the shadows. For the past five years, I have been a doctoral student at UC Berkeley and I have had many challenges getting to where I am today. I haven't always had the confidence in myself that I should. The year of 2017 was about self-love and all I had to offer exactly as I am now. This new year in 2018 is about confidence and growing into the woman I know I have worked hard to become."
"As a young, single mother at 19, I knew that I could not provide the life my son deserved if I did not receive an education. My sister was one of the first in our immediate family to attend and graduate college and I was lucky to follow in her footsteps. I went back to school when my son was a few months old and fell in love with learning again. I started at the community college level and made my way to a four year university. While at San Francisco State University, I met Dr. Velia Garcia and she told me that I would be Dr. Gomez one day. I laughed at her and said I wasn't even sure if I could graduate with my bachelor's degree. "
"It turned out that Velia saw something in me that I did not see in myself. She taught me the importance of mentoring others and helping them reach their goals in a way that honored themselves. In 2012, Velia lost her battle with cancer and it was the sign I needed to apply to obtain my doctorate degree. Over the past five years, I have mentored many students, particularly underrepresented students like myself to pursue their academic and professional goals in a new way that honors who they are."
"So many have sacrificed so much so that I could walk through these doors and accomplish my dreams and I want to continue opening the doors for others to reach theirs. This degree is not just for me but for those that came before me and for those that will come long after I am gone. I wanted to demonstrate to others that anything is possible even when you feel the deck is stacked against you."
"My life's work is to continue mentoring others while teaching undergraduate and graduate students. My goal for this year is to take risks and be the best me I can be. Deciding to participate in this photoshoot with Maria was a vital step in my journey. I knew after seeing photos she did of a friend that she would bring out my natural beauty and confidence. "