Yesenia Ballasteros

Advertising Photography major Yesenia Ballesteros always knew that she wanted to pursue a major in photography.

“I enjoy creating images that capture moments in time, because then I can relive them when I look back at the photos,” says the 23-year-old from Poteet, Texas.

Ballesteros has three siblings, and is the only deaf person in her family. She lost her hearing at six months due to spinal meningitis, and attended a private deaf elementary school and a mainstream public middle school and high school.

She chose RIT/NTID because of the quality of the academic programs, and the opportunity to be with deaf and hearing peers.

Ballesteros received an associate degree in Graphic Arts from NTID’s Arts & Imaging Studies Department prior to entering RIT’s College of Imaging Arts and Science to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Since she arrived at RIT/NTID, Ballesteros has been involved with the Hispanic Deaf Club, and has served as social director and treasurer, and is currently vice president.

“My involvement in HDC has helped me become more aware of other Latin/Hispanic cultures from other countries, and has boosted my self confidence, developed my leadership skills and improved my public speaking,” she says.

This past fall, Ballesteros represented NTID at the Texas Latino Council for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing conference, where she competed in, and won, the Miss Deaf Texas Latina Pageant. Her winning scores from the interview, talent and cultural spirit sections earned her the title.

“It was very exciting because my family was there to watch me compete in the pageant,” she says.

Known by her friends as “the teal girl,” Ballesteros confides she is crazy about the color teal.

“Everything I own is teal—from my clothes, to my school supplies, to my home accessories,” she says. “The color fits me well. It evokes mystery, creativeness and passion, just like me.”

After graduation, her goal is to become a cultural travel photographer, and she would like to start her own photography business.

“I aspire one day to take photos like National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry, who captured one of the most famous portraits the world has ever seen, ‘The Afghan girl with the haunting green eyes,’” she says. “Like him, I want to show the power of cultural photography, and to open people’s eyes and hearts with compelling images.”

This story appeared in the Fall/Winter 2011 issue of FOCUS Magazine.

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