Meet Mollie-The Suitcase Studio
Mollie deftly walked toward me through the wispy summer grass, her gaze never wavering.
“Okay… let me see your POWER pose,” I told her. “Show me what STRENGTH looks like.”
Planting her feet on the ground and placing one hand on her hip, she stared boldly into my lens and asked, “Like this?”
Yes.. EXACTLY that.
At age 16, Mollie already has a fire in her heart and is filled with a passion to share it with the world. Armed with curiosity, empathy, and a journalistic eye, she is looking to connect with others who need it the most so she can share their stories through her own unique voice.
Her mother says, “Mollie has always been a sponge, alert to activity around her, and incredibly empathetic. She talked before she walked and used words beyond her years. Mollie is in touch with what is going on in the world and not only questions it but is passionate about figuring out the systems, why they happened and how they can change.”
In fact, Mollie recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Los Angeles with her youth group where she spent four days walking the streets of downtown LA and Skid Row. She didn’t timidly keep her gaze down and turn away from the house-less population as others might have, but instead reached out to those on the streets, striking up conversations and getting to know them on an individual basis.
In Mollie’s own words, “Each of the people living on the street has a diverse story and diverse needs and without talking to the people in need of help, there is no way to truly fix the problem without understanding it in the first place.”
She then wrote an article about her experience in LA and is sharing it wherever she can. Mollie is excited about the storytelling aspect; channeling her experiences into writing, as a way of providing a window for others to more easily see and connect with the issues at hand. She is also contemplating a future in journalism.
Now, Mollie is busy gearing up for an even bigger adventure. Accepted into the program Bridges: Thailand in conjunction with Campfire Central Oregon and Workshops with Purpose, she’ll be part of a group traveling to Thailand in November to learn more about the topic of human trafficking.
“I’m very passionate about human rights in general,” Mollie says. “I hope to shed light on the subject of human trafficking in a way that’s easy for people to understand and inspires them to make a change.”
As you can imagine, her mom couldn’t stop beaming when talking about what the future holds for her daughter. “Mollie is enthusiastic about making a change and always has been. She realized at a young age that she was always going to be fighting for the underdog and has a massive heart for social justice,” her mother proudly shared with me.
It’s not going to be an easy road, but Mollie is determined to make it happen. Tasked with having to raise the funds to make the Thailand trip, she has already spearheaded yard sales, fundraisers, social media promotion, and takes on whatever odd jobs she can find to raise the money. Actions speak louder than words, so it’s a good thing that Mollie excels at both.
She’s excited but nervous about the upcoming trip. This will be her first trip overseas, though she hopes it’s just the beginning of her travels. “In the future, I really hope to do more learning about issues and immersing myself in cultures and then putting that into projects to help make changes and open people’s minds. I think I’d like to do more volunteering with organizations that help people in need.”
Mollie is an inspiration and a good reminder to us all that even one voice holds the power to make an impact. I’m incredibly excited to see what the future holds for her, and I know that our local community, as well as the global community, will be better off because of what’s to come.
She is a shining example of what it truly means to be beautiful.
Short Bio of Photographer
Hey there… I’m Michelle Simmons of The Suitcase Studio, specializing in FUN photo sessions with less posing + more PLAY! Born and raised in Orange County, California, I followed my heart and relocated to Bend, Oregon a few years ago (though my camera + I still travel as requested).
With a background in psychology and years spent working in children’s group homes, I’ve seen the HUGE difference that positive self-esteem can make in a child’s life, so this is a BIG focus of mine. I still use my psychology training and insight during each and every photo shoot; calming nerves, connecting on a personal level, and showcasing true beauty… both inside AND out!
In my spare time, you’ll find me wandering the local trails with my trusty sidekick Jasper (my mini-wienerdog), starting conversations with strangers, geeking out to the latest Marvel movie, and singing at the top of my lungs with the car radio. Because the motto I choose to live by is simply this: find joy every day.