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Neartown’s Rising Stars

The heart of our mission at VoyageHouston 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 Houston’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 Neartowns’s rising stars below.

Greg Orphanides

I started swimming lessons when I was 4 years old but had a huge fear of the water and quit soon after. When I was 7 my mother enrolled me in a swim team for beginner lessons and with the help of an amazing instructor my fear disappeared and my love for swimming grew. Read more>>

Hannah Lowery

I used to joke that instead of following a career “path,” my professional journey has been more of a career meander. But it took a lot of exploration (dead end jobs, experimental side hustles, etc.) to get here. I’ll be 30 this year, and I don’t think I could have arrived at Edges Wild or developed it to its current form a day sooner. Read more>>

Leonor Ratliff

I enjoyed art even when I was a child and being creative: from drawing homemade greetings cards to making costumes. I came from Philippines and have lived in Houston since 2004, raising my daughter and being a stay-at-home mom. I painted at home with just limited time and space, starting with portraits using pencil and charcoal. Read more>>

Araceli Schmaltz

It has always been a passion for me to exercise to stay healthy. One day I was asked to teach Fitness Classes, and I started looking into certifications. Once I got Certified, I called my friends and my journey started there. I was now a Certified Group Exercise Instructor! Read more>>

Robin S Silvers

I wanted to find a to pursue my love of art fulltime. I’ve worked from home off an on for 7 years, which allowed me time to explore my interests. I finally took the plunge, got a fancy machine and started to embroider. Then it segued into making things that I would want to purchase at a store. Read more>>

Erik Hagen

I studied art and art history at Carleton College and won a post-graduate art residency at Carleton for one year. I quickly discovered that I needed to actually make money, so I went back to school and got a masters degree in environmental engineering from the University of Washington. Read more>>

Emanuelee Bean

I’m a poet. However I use my poetry in the multiple and varied Waze. Started when I was in college when I found it and created the first historically black college poetry slam team at Prairie View A&M that went to a national competition, CUPSI. Read more>>

Rachel Andres

Rachel was born and raised in Houston. As friends and family can attest, there was never a day she didn’t love hair, playing, twisting, styling and restyling her own and those closest to her. It came as no surprise then when she pursued Cosmetology, completing her certification in 1995. In 2002, she followed through on another long-time interest when she received a BA in Psychology from Texas State University (then called Southwest Texas State). Read more>>

Wanjun Zhang, Neeraj Tandon, Amanda Shih

As part of the Houston Public Library Community engagement team, I helped bring technology and library experiences to those in Houston who can’t make it to the library. Our patrons ranged from age 5 to 99, and I experienced first-hand deep divide in digital literacy. It was eye opening that something I had taken for granted growing up – the ability to a computer is such is such a needed class for senior citizens and middle school students alike. There is a serious gap for technology education in Houston. Read more>>

Amanda Ducach

3 years ago, I received a phone call from my bestfriend, Alicia, from a hospital sitting next to her 2 year old son, Diego. A pediatrician had just told her that due to severe allergies, his brain cells were not absorbing nutrients and that he was walking down a very dangerous path. Read more>>

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