Ashley Ventura's College Essay

Alicia Hansen - Sunday, December 15, 2013

SALT student for 2 years 

Student at Syracuse University 
Scholastic Art Award winner 2013 

The most common question any child is ever asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Before the summer of 2012, I thought, “I’m not a child anymore. 

What do I want to be?” Unfortunately, I still didn’t know the answer. This was where NYC Salt entered the equation. NYC Salt is a non-profit photography organization that helps inner-city youth learn who they are and inspires them to be who they’re truly meant to be. I was recommended to enroll by my guidance counselor, and this organization has changed my life immensely. This was surprising, because I had never gotten an opportunity to fully invest myself in something I found satisfaction in. I have learned to see things with a whole new perspective, and it has motivated me to take every single chance given to me in order to live the happy and successful life I’ve always dreamed of. 

Over the summer of 2012, I was given the chance to attend the School Press Institute at Syracuse University. Accepting this opportunity finally gave me a chance to travel away from home and experience a new environment. Even though I’m from a working class family and acknowledged as a minority, it doesn’t mean I’m not able to create a major goal I can accomplish. I discovered the meaning to “anything is possible,” because while studying there, I felt completely excited by everything I was introduced to. It felt as if I was destined to be there at that moment because I was happy. Not only did I love what I was learning — I loved learning itself. This encouraged me to continue seeking what it is I would like to become. That week convinced me that I was capable of completing any goal I wanted and that I was also capable of dreaming as big as I wanted. Being the daughter of a single mother, I have never been able to afford any kind of enrichment activity as wonderful as the School Press Institute. That experience allowed me to build a bridge of hope for myself. My whole entire life I have been preparing myself to be successful and to fully invest myself in something that truly inspires me. On the quest to fulfill the answer to that mocking question, I have maintained a positive attitude towards everything I have been accomplishing. I’ve participated in many school activities to help me figure out what I would like to be — everything from cooking classes, to track, to dance, to photography. Those activities allowed me to gain marvelous experiences which I am grateful for; however, individually none of them were my calling. Until I went to Syracuse, I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. Now, I am sure that what truly inspires me is the idea of growing as a person. What I want to be when I grow up is the best version of myself. I’m hopeful and anxious for my upcoming journey, where I can share the ideas I’ve gained with people who aspire to be happy and grow limitlessly the same way I do.

Danny Martinez Testimonial

Alicia Hansen - Saturday, January 15, 2011

Growing up in the Bronx molded me to be the individual I am today. People associate The Bronx with gangs and violence and it’s universally considered to be a place you would not like to grow up. But the way I look at it, there is beauty in everything. 

I grew up pretty fast, both because of my neighborhood and my four older brothers. Boys being boys, there would often be a “royal rumble” in my room, so I started to take photos of it with an old Polaroid camera my Dad got me. My father was into photography, but when I was around four or five years old, he was in jail for a year. My mom and I would go visit him on a long bus ride. She told me: “This is where your Dad works”. I guess she knew I wouldn’t understand the concept of jail at such a young age. 

I would always bring my Dad some of my photos. Most of them were of my brothers wrestling, some were of the family dog. They always made him happy. I thought it was cool that a simple photo could make somebody smile and laugh. I realized at a young age that images evoke emotion. As I got older and experimented with photography, I began to make other people smile as well. Telling stories without a single word is one of the most appealing things to me. No matter how complex your vision, it can always be translated into a photograph. 

Photography helps me see different perspectives. Having a quiet personality, it has helped me feel more comfortable talking with people: telling them about my work, letting them know why I made a certain photo or simply describing the point I had tried to capture. I love reactions to my photos; it’s the best feeling when somebody smiles or just stares, clueless, trying to figure out technically, how I made it. 

My Dad passed away from cancer when I was 16 years old and that really changed things for me. It made me appreciate life more and recognize that our time here is limited. Being exposed to the danger and poverty of my neighborhood also made me appreciate the basic things in life. It encouraged me to not waste my talent and to try to take up Gandhi’s challenge: “Be the change you want to see in this world”. 

Teenagers are faced with a harsh reality nowadays. I want to make a change, starting in my community. I want to give teenagers a resource besides school where they can focus their talents. My goal is to create an after school program for teenagers who are interested in art: Drawing, Photography, Cinematography, Sculpting, and more. I want to help kids who are less fortunate than I was. Whether it’s with one kid or one hundred kids, I’m determined to have an impact. 

 In this world I feel everybody is an artist, they just have to find their medium.

"My Amazing Mentor - Adam Chinitz" by Christian Rodriguez

Alicia Hansen - Saturday, November 20, 2010
SALT student for 3 years 
Student at the Savannah College of Art and Design 

“Be around the people you want to be like, because you will be like the people you are around.” 

By Christian Rodriguez

Feeling hopeful makes hard work so rewarding, my influence to do the things I do better, Adam Chintz a freelance photographer based in New York City does not fail to make me feel hopeful about the future that is to come. I met Adam through NYC SALT, a program that teaches kids the ins and outs of photography and the photography business. Right when we met I felt like we would be good friends but never thought that we would work together and hang out. One night I was invited to celebrate Adams birthday which I thought was so cool only because of the age difference of the people that would be at the celebration, I think that's when I realized that Adam and I were friends. Our similarities are what played a vital part in our friendship and in my question-less belief that Adams’ advice was always valid. Our love for classic rock is what I feel and believe brought us together as friends, on a regular basis at the studio we’ll work and there is no doubt that Jimi Hendrix will be playing in the background. 

Adams adoration for photography is alone inspiring and beautiful in the way that just by being in his presence it makes me want to absorb all the knowledge that he is and isn't trying to pass down onto me. Adam will say things like, “Dude, you gotta think bigger and not limit yourself with smaller things or thoughts.” Although I sometimes feel like these sayings may sound corny, its true just because I do tend to limit myself only because of fear, feeling that I might fail sometimes makes me pace myself. Adams consistent influence on me helps me shoot for nothing but the best. 

My love for photography started when I got my first camera phone, the first generation iPhone. I played with that and felt that maybe I had an eye. I continued to shoot with my iPhone and then finally stepped my game up to an SLR, I had no idea what to do and found myself almost dropping the idea of photography. Four years into the hobby and Adams influence in my work I will be going to college to study photo journalism all thanks to someone who influenced me to do better. I consistently find myself wondering, “What would Adam do? How would he make a situation like this simple?” These thoughts spawn from the fact that Adam has implanted ever lasting ideals of doing better, getting close to perfection if not achieving perfection. I’ve always felt like I always did an average job and most of the time I do, not because I aim to under achieve but because I never gave it thought that a job or choir could be rated from bad to OK, to great. It wasn't until Adam had me thinking that the only way to do something was to do it correctly and if possible, perfectly. 

 I can’t wait till the day when I’ve found myself in my own work and I can tell Adam that somewhere in there his influence made my work better and more complete. I cant find a way to thank Adam for being the coolest white dude I know and for putting aside his whiteness to help a fellow Hispanic. All I can say is, “ Adam, when will you give your fellow Hispanic friend your Leaf AFi 6x6 Medium format camera?”


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