Bloomingdale High School senior, Alexis Vasquez, already knows a little bit about the business world beyond the walls of her high school. Vasquez, an honor student with a 5.6 GPA, launched her own photography business two years ago. The best part of this young entrepreneur is that she is focused on her faith and giving back to her community.

“Every year I raise money through my business for a different charity,” said Vasquez. This year the goal is to raise $1,000 for the Tim Tebow Foundation. To date, she is almost half-way to her goal. “I believe in what (Tebow) stands for and what his foundation stands for. He’s not ashamed of his faith. He brings it on to the football field and off the field. I want to be able to use my faith in what I do, too.”

The daughter of Lee and Maria Johnson, Vasquez has always had an eye for the arts and has the complete support of her family who has always encouraged her to reach her goals. “My mom is my biggest fan- always bragging about me. She’s never told me my dreams were too big.”

Vasquez’ interest in photography hit her like a ton of bricks. “I’ve always been an artist and that creativity fed my photography. The passion came when I was a freshman in high school and stuck,” said Vasquez. “Since I always wanted to help others, I used my photography to raise money for various charities such as Unicef, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

Vasquez loves the virtual miracle of photography. “I can literally freeze time and capture it forever. Times change, things change, people change, but photos never do. They are all we have left at the end of it all. Not even memories are guaranteed. I came to this realization after watching my grandmother suffer from severe Alzheimer’s disease. It makes me appreciate what I do even more.”

In addition to her photography skills, she has also won first place in Florida for the PTSA Reflections contest and won an award from the University of Tampa, first place for  “Best of Watercolor” at the Art Museum of Tampa and was named Bloomingdale’s 2012 Artist of the Year award.

Vasquez plans to focus on her business after graduation. “Art and photography are my passions and I also have a heart to serve others,” said Vasquez. “It’s what I do best and I can’t wait to be able to do more of that once I graduate.”

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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.