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Inspiring Stories from Old Town-Mission Valley

The heart of our mission at the SD Voyager 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 the San Diego’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 the rising stars from Old Town-Mission Valley below.

Taqiyya Robinson

My spiritual journey started sometime in 2012, but the path was set long before then. At that time, I suffered from depression and anxiety that caused panic attacks. My soul was asking, loudly at this point, to be heard. Somehow in all the chaos, I knew if I wanted different, I had to be different. I ended a volatile relationship with myself and a boy, and I sold all my things to set out on a journey of honoring the call of my soul. I moved from New York to San Diego, got a therapist and started changing everything about my lifestyle. Essential oils were my introduction into the world of vibrational medicine. Shortly after, I went to my first yoga class and it was the first space id been in that invited me to have compassion for myself. I was introduced to reiki then as well. The combination was so healing, it set the stage for the path I saw for myself and those I wanted to serve. The urge to end any kind of suffering like what I’d experienced grew every day. I kept going back and eventually decided I wanted to offer a safe space like this to the world. Read more>>

Naron DeJohnette

I grew up with a passion for drawing, make music, and entertaining people. I got involved in the escape room business in 2016 by thinking, creating, and building puzzles for 3rd Day Escape. When that company, unfortunately, went out of business due to Covid-19, I decided to create my own escape rooms. I love the concept of making an experience for people that they can enjoy with their friends and families while still using their brains to solve puzzles. A really good friend of mine lost her bartending and music gigs during this pandemic, so she wanted to learn about the escape room business and became interested in this avenue of entertainment. Read more>>

Aleya Lanteigne

I have been a collector for as long as I can remember, I’m not sure of the source, perhaps Pogs, or Pokémon cards, but the idea that I had to “collect them all” was a thrilling thought even though I never had a complete collection. I wasn’t afforded much growing up, so I quickly moved on from novelty possessions to more accessible and organic things; from seeds and leaves, to rocks and shells. I would be on the hunt for treasure wherever I went. Common collecting grounds as a child included sites like the neighborhood train tracks, trips to the lake, and the most accessible: a walnut tree in my front yard. Finding treasures was only half of the adventure I also had to figure out how to store or display my collection. I moved around school districts growing up, and attended one in the suburbs of Indianapolis that had a plethora of art classes. Unsure of what I wanted to do, I tried them all: drawing, painting, ceramics, sculpture, film/digital photography, jewelry and metalsmithing. Read more>>

Jennifer Curry Wingrove

I was the principal Ballerina for the California Ballet Company for many years. I ate, drank, and breathed ballet for decades of my life, studying in the US as well as in Russia and performing internationally. It was my everything. I worked diligently through physical challenges, emotional breakdowns, and artistic breakthroughs, and was so very blessed to earn the opportunity to dance the roles of my dreams. I was part of a magical world, a world designed to pull the audience into a surreal moment in time through beauty and imagination and atmosphere. During my dancing career, I would pick up a camera in my in-between times and capture moments of beauty and realism both onstage and off. Read more>>

Sean Courtney and Aryn Famiglietti

After working in the tech business and going through the dot com bust in 2001, I started working for a local mortgage broker in 2005, Lending Group. Although our firm had a strong ethical culture, the industry, in general, was pretty much what you would expect if you saw the movie “The Big Short”: toxic loan products created by Wall Street which incentivized mortgage lenders to put clients in the riskiest products. All that came crashing down in 2009, right as Aryn and I started our family, Quin born in 2008 and Caius in 2009. She left her day job when Quin was born to join me in the Real Estate industry and eventually started working together on mortgages full time after a couple of years. We struggled as many, including our friends, family, and self, struggled through falling real estate values and increasing monthly payments. Read more>>

Zahida Merchant

I have always been someone who loves to try new foods and drinks. Living in San Diego has shown me that there is so much variety. Coming from an Indian family, our favorite pastime is to eat. My parents have never been known to turn down anything sweet, so of course, that quality has rubbed off on me. My friends and family all know that I have a big sweet tooth and often come to me when they need a suggestion on where to go. In the past, I used to post all my meals for fun or share it with my loved ones, and then one day, my husband jokingly suggested I make a food account. I decided to go for it and make a food account just for fun. I love to take photos and I love to eat, so why not combine my favorite things? I started my own little “Foodstagram” account (around April of 2019) and just posted fun shots of things I ate or drank here and there. Read more>>

Bebo Díaz

I just turned 25, and I haven’t stopped cutting hair since the day I picked up a pair of clippers in the 6th grade, 11 years old. I was cutting all the kids in my grade, Ironic but those kids now have kids which I’m cutting now too, lol. I now run my own business, “Stay Sharp San Diego” we have been open for three years. Happy and excited about what the future holds. Read more>>

Carol Muleta

It fascinates me how different my career journey is from that of my parents. They each spent most of their careers in the same field, from start to finish, and retired from federal government service after 30 years. Their journeys were not unlike those of others in their generation. My career, on the other hand, has three chapters. After college, I honed my skills in forecasting and inventory management in the fashion industry as well as the federal government. I then earned an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia. After business school, I returned to government and worked my way up the ranks to become a senior marketing program manager, responsible for a product portfolio earning revenue close to $1 billion. Read more>>

Amy Munera

I became involved with the Autism Society San Diego shortly after I moved to San Diego county 11 years ago. My oldest son Patrick participated in the summer camp program, Camp I CAN, which is a collaboration between Autism Society San Diego and two local YMCA branches, Toby Wells YMCA and Magdalena Ecke YMCA. The week he spent at camp was one of the most wonderful experiences of his life, and I was so impressed with the program and the staff. I ended up joining the board of directors a few years later and have been involved ever since. I have held several executive board member positions, including secretary and president, which is my current position. The other board members of this organization have been so inspiring to me and it has been my honor to be a part of keeping our long-standing programs running as well as working to create new ones. Read more>>

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