Photo Source: Lindsay and Instagram
If you ever question what travel can do for you, just ask a classical pianist, an opera singer, an artist, a teacher, a research publisher, and a pharmacist. Don't know any? Meet our travel crush. These are just a few of her accomplishments. And how does she do it all? Well, she credits traveling.
Tell us about yourself! Who are you? Where are you from? What do you do? What inspires you to travel?
I absolutely love this question! So I guess I'll start from the very beginning! Forgive me cause this will be a bit long, but it's been a long journey. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, to Haitian immigrant parents, I like to think that I am an accidental byproduct of the rooted culture and arts of the concrete jungle. Years ago, I graduated from the LaGuardia Performing Arts high school - otherwise known as the "Fame" school. I was a trained classical pianist and opera singer. I loved the stage and loved performing. The rush and burst of feelings when facing masses of people was an experience I lived for. After this period in my life, I then went on to pursue pre-Dentistry in college. However, if there is one thing that every artist will tell you, it is that your artistry never leaves you. It's like this magical gift that indefinitely stays with you, and no matter how hard you try to hide it, it will always fight its way through. This was the situation I faced while in college. I missed music and the joy it brought me and others. So once I graduated, rather than going to dental school, I decided to go with my original passion - music performance.
I did the unthinkable and changed my name, changed my look, and started a band. Since I was a child, I had been writing music, so melodies freely flowed from me. My bandmates, who were all from South America, added a bit of spice to my compositions, and it was magic from then! I began gaining some minor traction throughout NYC, with my first gig opening for Grammy award-winning artist Cee Knowledge of the Digable Planets, to my final gig of almost opening for Chaka Khan at the Essence Festival. This was a period of significant change for me personally in so many different ways. The truth is the entertainment industry is complex, and it teaches you to hustle for what you want, but at the same time, it humbles you.
While I was trying to build my music career, I supported myself by working as a part-time dental assistant. The little money I made stretched a long way - recording studios every other night after work, equipment, etc. My part-time job was intended to just be a crutch for me, but I started to actually really love the work. I understood people from a music artist's perspective, but my dental assisting job helped me understand people from a healthcare perspective. However, enjoying something wasn't enough for me. I wanted to fully immerse myself in it. So I challenged myself and decided to join a dental mission team comprised of 6 other individuals halfway across the world in the Federated States of Micronesia. It was a crazy idea for several reasons because, first, I had never even heard about Micronesia. Second, I had never actually traveled alone, and third, I questioned whether or not I was even fit to do this. However, it was the best experience of my life.
We provided free dental care to roughly 200 people a day for a week. Many only heard of our services through word of mouth and traveled by boat with their entire families to receive the free care. Micronesia is an impoverished country with very little access to adequate healthcare and facilities. This was a powerful experience for me cause I saw facets to travel I never thought existed. The most riveting was an interaction I had with one of my patients. She watched me take pictures of my team's mobile clinical and spoke barely any English, verbalizing that she wanted me to take her picture. She had no Facebook or social media cause she had no phone, but she begged that I post her picture. "I want the world to see my face. I want the world to know I exist," she said. That shook me; thus, I began documenting details of this trip and the experiences I was having. My patients traveled far just to receive the dental care, with some even bearing gifts of gratitude for my team and myself. They connected with me. They put their trust and healthcare in my hands. At that moment, I understood this level of vulnerability exemplified the power of human connection. Upon my return from my trip, I knew my path had shifted in my soul. I informed my bandmates of my decision to transition into this new journey of medicine. Although they might have thought I was a little off at the time, they supported me fully.
This experience in travel sparked a fire in me. I went on to join another dental mission trip to Uganda. I think this one truly shook things up because this documentation of life, the people, and my personal experiences truly slated the messaging I was receiving from the universe. I decided to pursue higher education at this point. I pursued a master's in Cancer Clinical Research while traveling to help people in developing countries. On one occasion, I had volunteered to teach English in Sri Lanka to the children of the tea pluckers, a group of women who hand plucked the tea leaves of the popularized Lipton and Ceylon tea. This was indeed a solo trip, as I had traversed almost the entirety of Sri Lanka by myself.
I have always been passionate about helping others be the best version of themselves and aiming to achieve what most would not imagine. My personal goal was to one day be a doctor, but there were difficult moments in which I felt that might never happen. Still, I persisted, but in parallel, my wonderful Sri Lankan students also had their own goals. They just wanted to learn English to get better jobs to support their families. Yet, little did I know my 1-week experience with them would inspire them to not only learn English but seek higher education for themselves. I was this passionate, outspoken, Black female teacher who not only taught them English but a little bit of Haitian Creole! They had never encountered anyone like me before, so you could imagine the culture shock. But, it was a beautiful teachable moment for all of us, with some now becoming professors and educators themselves. Many had been watching the course of my travels and would often tell me how my experience with them changed their lives. In those moments, I knew I wanted to continue to be the example I had always aimed to be, but this time, not just for myself, but for these people I would meet in my travels. I wanted to show them that it is possible to be great despite circumstances. I wanted them to understand just how powerful the mind is - that if you only choose to change your mind, you will change your outcome.
Last year I graduated top of my class in pharmacy school. I had my pediatric cancer research published with the American Association for Cancer Research 2021 Meeting. I also landed one of the most competitive pharmaceutical industry fellowships in the nation with Johnson & Johnson while pursuing my passion for solo traveling. I say this not to brag but to show others just how powerful travel, particularly solo travel, can be. If you are searching or discovering yourself, challenge yourself through travel, and be completely unapologetic about it. Travel is the gift that many never knew they needed, and if the path of your life doesn't seem clear, create it. Okay, I think that's long enough. Haha!
How do you balance your day job as a Pharmacist and your side hustle as a travel content creator?
It has been such an interesting experience and, quite frankly, many parallelisms. My current role within the pharmaceutical industry is one in which I more or less help with creating substantiated content for products already in existence or to launch. So to some degree, it is like travel content creation. However, I always make time to do both respectfully while putting 100% of myself into all of my work. I like to create opportunities to create. We always have time, but it truly is about how we manage this time appropriately.
What is your advice to those who would like to implement more travel in their lives?
Decide on a path that best suits you to do so. Some individuals have found balance in having a regular 9-5 job and traveling. In contrast, others might choose to become digital nomads and travel fully. I think it's important to understand that both have great advantages and disadvantages. I am someone who falls within the first category, and for now, I am completely ok with that. I personally enjoy the financial security, but that does mean I may not travel as often as others. However, there are positions within Pharma that allow you to work remotely and flexibly. They might even provide you the opportunity to travel frequently. This is actually something I am now extensively researching for myself. Though I do want to say, you don't have to feel pressured to travel just to say you traveled somewhere. It truly is about the quality of the travel experience instead of the quantity. Even if you can only travel once a year, you can make that yearly trip extraordinary by curating it to your liking and highlighting experiences many may not have. Again, it's all about creating opportunities first, in your mind.
What effects has travel had on you and your life?
Oh goodness, almost every effect possible! There are two that I think have exemplified this. The first coming into womanhood. Travel, specifically solo travel, allowed me to define who I am as a woman. There was a time when I questioned everything about myself. I was uncomfortable in my own skin and defined myself by who others thought I should be. I used to have this idea that I needed to be perfect, but the fact is that life isn't perfect, and in travel…nothing is perfect.
This really leads me to my second groundbreaking moment in travel. I was in love through travel; I lost love through travel and found love again through travel. I had been married at a young age and had remained married for quite some time. Many people didn't even know this cause I'm incredibly private about my personal life. I did quite a bit of baecationing early on with my partner. We would island hop together, finding ourselves in some crazy but funny situations. I loved my relationship at the time, but I had defined myself through the lens of that relationship. As women, we have the picture perfect life etched in our minds and what we assume to be a clear vision of the future. But it's the most heart-wrenching thing when what you wanted to be your reality shatters right before your very eyes. I don't think anyone is ever mentally prepared for a breakup, much less the dissolution of a marriage. It's the kind of pain and sense of failure many often bare in silence. I was one of those people. As a matter of fact, I was going through the process of my divorce when I went on my solo trip to teach in Sri Lanka. At the time, it was a form of escapism from the reality I faced back in the USA. Oddly enough, fragments of that experience would resurface again during this trip when I was presented with a young female student to mentor who had been facing a similar situation. It took everything in me not to break down because, again, I had to find it in myself to fill her cup and give her the strength and the words I knew I needed at the same time. I recall her telling me about her fear of never finding love again and being ashamed of being uneducated. I showed her that the beauty of love was all around her, even in her difficult situation. She later became a professor at a Sri Lankan university.
The day after I returned from that trip to Sri Lanka, I received documentation that my divorce had been finalized. I felt shattered, but I had to keep pushing on. It wouldn't be until 3 months later, while on a trip to South Africa to celebrate a friend's wedding, I would encounter the second greatest love of my life. I almost didn't go on that trip because I had still been working on my Master's, and it didn't help that I was a grieving divorcee. But I am forever grateful that I made the choice to go. That relationship I developed was one of the greatest and most unexpected love affairs I could have ever imagined. I was a different person. I had my own goals and my own dreams. I fully understood and accepted my strengths and failures, personally, professionally, and privately. If it wasn't for travel, I really wouldn't be the person I am today.
5. What is the biggest lesson you've learned as a result of travel?
Life is never a straight path. Sort of like travel, there are side paths, obstacles you have to face, rivers you have to cross, and mountains you have to climb wherever you go. Don't fear them - go through them. The greatest lessons learned are not actually achieving the goal but rather the journey to the destination.
Where else can folks find you?
You can find me on:
And my soon to be launched website: www.BeyondEden.net
Here are some more of our favorite travelers and their gorgeous shots.
Ellee is in the building - and this week she's showing us what it means to be a globe trotting Travel Crush. This native New Yorker has climbed the pyramids of Egypt, took her whole life in her hands on the swings in Bali, and she's still pumped for more challenging, new adventures. Read on for her tips on having magical experiences without breaking the bank, her favorite hack for buying cheap flights, and how she stays in villas without the hefty price tag.
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