Ambay Tessema’s path to purpose came as a first-generation American, Ambay Tessema knows what it means to be the new kid in class, in school, in town, and even in the country. Now he works as a translator for fellow Ethiopian immigrants in Colorado – happy knowing that he can help others overcome that adversity. In Denver, Ambay works to establish organizations, teams, and networks that uplift immigrant populations and better connect the community. His Path to Passion started at 9 years old, when his parents uprooted their lives from Ethiopia to California, eventually settling in Aurora, Colorado.
Colorado is home to a large population of Ethiopian immigrants. Nearly 30,000 live in the Denver Metro area alone. Ambay studied Business Management and Economics at the University of Colorado, then bounced around successful tech start ups for a few years. He got his first breath of fresh air from the corporate world when he helped translate for a documentary filmmaker in (year).
He realized that the sacrifices he was making for his job were taking a toll on the rest of his life–so he left. He quit his corporate job to commit full-time as a Language interpreter.
“It was scary, but my parents, my friends…they supported me and it gave me the courage to trust my gut and go for it.”
We followed Ambay over dinner with his parents, capturing his passion at play, and caught him simply enjoying adventures with his dog Kimba in the beautiful Colorado outdoors.
“I feel very connected to my Ethiopian roots–I don’t feel like I belong to one community over another. At the end of the day I feel like we’re all part of one big community, and that’s humanity.”
Ambays mom and dad live nearby, which is something that is really important to him and the lifestyle he has chosen to live.
Connecting with the local Denver community is a big part of Ambay’s job. He’s constantly finding ways to help people navigate the city.
Ambay was young when he first came to the United States and had to learn how to adapt soon after he arrived.
One of Ambay’s favorite things to do is stay active in the mountains. He loves to bike ride and go hiking with his dog, Kemba.
Christa David’s path to purpose came from her independence in the face of adversity – and her faith in following a changing course. She was born and raised in Harlem, NY, birthplace of the eponymous Renaissance and a mecca for creativity. She had a child at the age of 14, and fought her way through school – not only to graduate, but to attend the prestigious Columbia University.
For five years she would spend nights and weekends creating art that reflected the experiences she had as a public health worker in her community. And as she began putting all of those images to paper, she started to see that her path was leading her in a direction she hadn’t originally imagined.
Christa’s unique story and passion for the community ultimately overcame her fear of becoming a “starving artist,” leading her to leave her 12-year career as a public health professional in pursuit of her artistry.
“You know something is for you when it makes you feel a certain way, and this just feels right,” Christa said about her decision to focus on her art.
Christa thought her career was her purpose, but as she shifted her focus to her true passion, it felt as though life had just begun. Today, Christa’s collages reflect the evolution of her changing environment – and are made up of visual elements that have contributed to her own evolution throughout the years.
We followed Christa as she took us step by step through her creative process. Hear her explain her latest collage series in her own words, and the picture she paints around the community that inspires her to live her truth and follow her own path.
Christa’s home studio has become a sacred place where a lot of her art is created. Photo Credit: Matt Seger
Bold colors are also an important part of Christa’s work. She loves using bright hues, especially a salmon pink that she mixes for many of the backgrounds in her paintings. Photo Credit: Matt Seger
Christa’s work usually represents the stories of her surrounding community and the injustice they sometimes face, but also the happiness they exude despite adversity. Photo Credit: Matt Seger
Christa attributes her strength to her family and strong Harlem community. She has faced many challenges in her life, but says she continues to move forward with faith. Photo Credit: Matt Seger