Meet Series

Courtesy Merge Records

As a kid, Laura Ballance was most comfortable slipping into the background. Her introverted nature gave her plenty of space to think and create on her own. As a teenager, she found punk through a music video of Adam and the Ants, and the “otherness” they expressed spoke directly to her.

News & Observer

Martha Mobley just cannot stay away from the farm. She grew up on a 1,000 acre livestock operation in Franklin County started by her grandfather in the early 1900s. Some of her earliest memories are of joining her father to deliver sows in a building still standing behind their house.

While much of the country was suffering during the Great Depression, Nathan Garrett’s family found a safe haven in Durham, North Carolina. At the time the city was fertile ground for the African American entrepreneur, and the Garrett family ran the local pharmacy. Nathan learned the ropes of running a business, and he fondly remembers a community that was proud and self-sustaining. He eventually left Durham to attend Yale University, where he was part of the largest influx of African American students the university had known: a class of four.

Courtesy of Chuck Liddy

Chuck Liddy stumbled into a career as a photojournalist after he found out he could walk into  high school football games for free if he had a camera around his neck. But the photography enthusiast had already converted a bathroom in his house into a darkroom and enjoyed experimenting with the camera his dad had taken into the Vietnam War. Once Liddy was on staff at a newspaper, he began a career of taking risks and adopting the new technology of the day, from digital cameras to drones.

a photo of Frances Mayes
Will Garin

Frances Mayes’ travels and triumphs are chronicled in her memoir “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy.” On a whim, she finds herself in Italy and purchases a villa that she must restore. Her tales were immortalized in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a loose interpretation of the memoir which earned actress Diane Lane a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Mayes.

a photo of Iris Yang
Iris Yang

Iris Yang grew up in China with two parents who were high-achieving educators. They wanted her to be a good student and successful woman, and their passion was biology. She aimed to please them and followed their suggested path.

 

Yang was one of a few students accepted to the China-United States Biochemistry Examination and Application program, and at 23, she was sent to America with a borrowed $500 and poor English. She went on to study molecular biology and worked with researchers at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She made her parents proud, but she could not let go of a deep-seated desire to pursue one of her first loves: literature.

Courtesy Raymond Barfield

For most of his life, Raymond Barfield was a person of faith. He grew up in the church and maintained his faith right up to his early years as a physician. But his time working as a pediatric oncologist pushed him to the limits of his emotional and spiritual capacity.

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Sijal Nasralla grew up hearing stories about the bucolic hills his father used to roam as a shepherd in Palestine. He also learned early on about efforts his family members had made to preserve access to land they had lived on for hundreds of years.