Women Living their Dreams in Central Mass
Monday, September 17, 2012
“Within my first few months of working at Hanover, I created a networking circle of people I wanted to connect with in my first year of employment to gain as much insight as I could on the industry. I’m happy to say that a year later I have met with all of those people and have gained a network of mentors I can go to for advice and guidance,” she says.
Rebecca not only turns to her company for support, but to her mother as well. She works with her mom Lee Joseph, who works part-time selling residential real estate for Coldwell Banker. Rebecca says her mother is her greatest female role model.
“She serves as a great role model for many women in her office and in the local area. We have the amazing opportunity to work together and she has always been there for me offering professional words of advice or just being there as my best friend,” she said.
In five years Rebecca would like to be an established underwriter valued by her agents as an excellent resource for information and an expert in providing solutions for their insurance needs. While she hones her skills, she’ll continue to make a name for herself through her participation in the Young Professional Women’s Association in Worcester and through other volunteer efforts. As for her advice for other young professional females?
“The biggest lesson I have learned so far is that you don’t get a chance to make a second first impression. Everyone in the insurance industry is connected in one way or another and you never know when you will be working with or for that person in the future. This is the case in many industries, but has become a lot more evident to me as I started my career at the Hanover and also as I continue to develop relationships in the Real Estate Industry as well,” she explains.
Grateful Mother and Working Woman – Denise Kapulka
Denise Kapulka of Worcester is a busy woman. This single mother of a teenage son works three jobs and still finds time to volunteer in her free time.
“It was tough to juggle my family life as well as maintain a successful career,” she notes.
Denise works as a Sales Manager at Knight’s Airport Limousine of Worcester. She also has two part time jobs as a partner of Simply Delicious Catering in Auburn, and a part-time Assistant Manager at Pappas Recreation Center in the same town. She added her latest two part time jobs to her plate now that her son is older and she has more time to focus on her career.
“I wanted to be a dedicated mom who was there for her child. I didn’t miss a baseball or football game. If my son was ill and I needed to pick him up from school, I was there," says Denise.
Denise says her job at Knight’s Airport Limousine helped her be available for her child because the owners understood the flexibility she needed to raise her son. Fourteen years later she feels fortunate to be continuing her career there.
“(Fourteen years ago) I had a surgery that left me with the inability to walk for about 8 months. When I was able to walk again I could no longer do the career I set out to do, but I took a chance. I applied for a job that I had no experience in doing. Without many options available I took a chance, and was given the opportunity,” she explains.
These days, Denies gives much of her free time to the causes she cares about. In addition to serving as an Ambassador at the Worcester and Corridor Nine Chambers, she participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, raises funds for brain cancer, and promotes Ataxia research. People with ataxia have problems with coordination because parts of the nervous system that control movement and balance are affected. A friend of Denise’s was diagnosed with the disease and since then she has been working with Senator Michael Moore, (D) Millbury, to make Ataxia a day of recognition and spreading the word on the disease through the help of Charter Communications and WTAG.
Denise credits her friends and community for their support of this cause and other initiatives she cares deeply about, which she says is essential to success.
“Be thankful for every opportunity and make the best of it,” she explains.
Living the Dream – Andrea Ajemian
Andrea Ajemian of Worcester wears many hats in the film industry. Actress, producer, writer, director; you name it, she does it. And she does it all in the heart of the Commonwealth.
Andrea was introduced to the film industry in Los Angeles where she traveled to pursue her dreams. She returned home in 2001 to bring the film industry to Worcester. Since then, she has produced and starred in several local low-budget films including the dark comedy “Rutland USA”, a film based in her hometown of Rutland, MA, and “Freedom Park”, which had success in regional theatres. Both films featured local talent.
“People are starting real careers here in Worcester, both as actors and crew members. There are no words to express what that feels like, to know that I'm part of the reason they are able to turn their dreams into a reality,” she said.
Andrea’s dedication to her craft kept her growing, and she found success with an indie drama she produced called “Still Green” which won numerous awards. She was also able to raise more than half a million dollars for another one of her films, "Boy Band," which is slated for distribution soon.
In 2010, the former improvisational actor began working with Moody Independent in Boston, and co-produced five more films with them, some airing on television. In addition to producing features, Andrea’s company AA Films produces and edits commercials and promotional videos for a number of local companies. Her work doesn’t stop there.
She says, “I’m currently raising funds to shoot more films in the area.”
According to Andrea there is a misconception that she makes a lot of money in her glamorous field. However, she says film making is actually quite grueling and the compensation makes her far from rich. Still, she loves what she does which makes the long hours and low pay worthwhile.
“That far out-weighs making a lot of money. Happiness comes from within, and I like making other people happy. If you are a happy person and do what you love, that energy will shine.”
Andrea says the film making industry is male dominated, citing a Celluloid Ceiling 2011 Report which says women account for less than 20% of all producers, directors, editors and other similar jobs. So she does her best to hire 50% women when she hires her crews to provide more opportunities for females. When asked about how she is able to balance her film career with her personal life, Andrea says her experience in that field has been sobering. She explains that while it’s possible, it’s not that easy.
“I could not do what I do if I had a family. I'd love to have kids, but it's so hard to think about that when I don't even have stability in my career. I'm freelance, so I pay out of pocket in full for my health insurance and it's really expensive,” says Andrea.
Despite the sacrifices, Andrea is proud of her achievements.
“I have my own production office vs. working out of my parents' basement. I'd say that's a positive change which occurred in my 30s. Investors take me more seriously now that I'm older, but I also have a lot more experience, so it's easier to talk about what I do now,” she says.
For women starting out in the industry, Andrea has this advice:
"I just started making films, with no budgets, and then slowly there'd be a little more money on each film. I still produce low budget films so I'm certainly coming from the independent film perspective, but I think there's a lot to be said for experience, and learning as you go."
Andrea’s latest works, “Sexting in Suburbia” and “Last Hours in Suburbia” which she co-produced with Moody Independent, will be featured on The Lifetime Network on September 22 at 6pm and 8pm respectively. Both films were shot in Worcester.
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