Tag: young professionals

Faces of NextGen: Meet Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee, 41, Texas

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Energetic, passionate, motivating, inspiring, teacher’s heart.

Why genealogy? Why not genealogy? Of all the activities that I could do, nothing will last longer or have a greater impact than connecting my children’s hearts with those of their ancestors. There are lessons to learn from the tragedies and the triumphs as well as the wise or imprudent decisions. Only genealogy profiles these connections on such a deep level. Plus, sometimes you learn some hilarious situations along the way.

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? There are too many to name, so I’ll limit myself to three. With DNA testing, my circumstantial/inferential genealogy was proven correct! Oh, yeah. I have discovered more relations for my grandmother’s adopted line than she ever knew. I untangled a great-grandfather from his brother’s wife and discovered he had a second wife that only one side of the family understood well. And I also found out about a great-grandmother had a fiancé who died before she married my great-grandfather. The woman who encouraged the second match was the mother of the deceased fiancé!

What are you working on this week? That changes daily. I will either be giving back through indexing at FamilySearch, preparing a manuscript for publishing the stories of my ancestors, connecting with emails from DNA relatives matches, or just going where the hints lead me. Or, I’ll work on videos for the FamilyHistoryFanatics.com channel on YouTube.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? Patience! You have to laugh because I’m not a naturally patient person. I am easily distracted, so perhaps that helps me be patient. The discoveries of a Civil War ancestor that led me to discover his brothers and sister required patience. Patience for a photo request to be filled at Find A Grave. Patience for a Civil War Pension file to be scanned and sent to me. Patience for myself as I attempted one-name genealogy research for other Townsends in Franklin County, Ohio. Patience for the right time to take a DNA test. And that’s just one line. Every family line has a story of patience as I await the technology, time, or financial resources to catch up so I can make more discoveries.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? Time travel. Is that a superpower if it requires mechanical devices to access? I think this is every genealogist’s dream superpower. If that isn’t possible, it would be to read multiple foreign languages. I’d love to use the superpower to read German newspapers and church records to benefit my family and to learn other languages so I could serve my community through indexing or one-on-one family tree climbing.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Raising my five superheroes or dating my husband. My family is my life. You might also find me reading a Regency England era romance novel.

Anything else you’d like to share? Family history is more than researching dead people. We have to preserve the stories of our living relatives and ourselves as well. I am a young mother, yet my father passed away after meeting only three of his grandchildren. His stories died with him, and so did his voice. When my youngest was two, my mother joined him in the grave the same year my last living grandparent died. The link to the past closed and I only have access to what I can find in “traditional” genealogical records. Preserving the living is the most important thing a genealogist can do. As time permits, finding more about the deceased relatives can increase.


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.

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Faces of NextGen: Meet Katie Welka

Katie Welka, 31, California

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Creative, dedicated, introspective, passionate, whimsical.

Why genealogy? I read over fifty Nancy Drew books in my youth, obsessing over mystery stories. When I started researching my grandfather’s adoption, I fell in love with the “real-life mystery” aspect of genealogy and was hooked.

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? I solved the eighty-eight-year-old mystery of my grandfather’s adoption, uncovering the identity of both of his birth parents. He was adopted by his birth father’s sister!

What are you working on this week? I’m starting a genealogy business. This week, I’m creating some sample reports, one of which shows how I proved Ancestry’s “We’re Related” app was incorrect in suggesting a Sicilian fisherman’s grandson was the second cousin of baseball star Joe DiMaggio.

 

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? Working on my mystery novel, crocheting, scrapbooking, or hanging out on the California coast.

 


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.

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Faces of NextGen LIVE! Meet Randy Whited

The NextGen Genealogy Network’s Faces of NextGen LIVE! is a new feature hosted by Education Coordinator Eric Wells. In this recorded interview, get to know Randy Whited of Texas:

Want to say hello to your fellow young genealogists during a fun and informal interview with Eric? Let us know at info@tnggn.org.

Don’t forget to bookmark our YouTube Channel to keep up with the latest on Faces of NextGen LIVE!

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Faces of NextGen: Meet Ariana Fiorello

Ariana Fiorello, 22, Massachusetts

What five words would you use to describe yourself? Passionate. Adventurous. Sympathetic. Linguistic. Fluid.

Why genealogy? Simple answer, it chose me. I was adopted just six weeks after birth. I attended schools where family projects were important. We had to do pedigree charts and Punnett squares to analyze genetics. While most kids in my class could use themselves or were solid lines on their family trees, I was a dotted line. I had many questions, but not answers. It was not until my senior year of high school that I would get to ask the questions I had been longing to ask. When I connected with my biological parents–who are not together–I learned so much. I learned so much about them and my birth. I also learned about my ancestors, and those are the stories that truly fascinated me. I had never felt connected to my African American heritage. I was raised by a single Italian American woman, who tried her best to submerge me in the African American culture, but couldn’t quite do so. At the end of the day she was Italian and we celebrated the Italian way. I now get the best of both worlds, and I love both cultures. I am a part of both. However, genealogy taught me that genealogy is not just about blood, it also about those who love and care for you and are your family. To me this is an important factor that I want to instill in some of my clients who are adopted or who don’t know who their biological parents are. Our adoptive families are our families. Those ancestors are important because without them, we would not be with the parents that we know to be mom or dad.

What’s the coolest discovery you’ve made? The coolest discovery that I have made has to do with my own personal genealogy. While sifting through some census records, I began to notice one ancestor of mine whose parents stood out. In each census record for my fourth great-grandfather, Harry Batiste, his parents were recorded as having been born in Africa. Harry’s own birth continued to fluctuate between Louisiana, Mississippi, and Africa, but his parents’ never wavered. This was a cool discovery because I was able to conclude that his parents were born in Africa, making my fourth great grandfather the closest direct ancestor that I could document back to the “motherland” of Africa. Through further research, DNA, I was able to confirm a great percent of my DNA comes from West Africa. 

What are you working on this week? While I am currently working on my book, I am also preparing to apply for the Board of Certification for Genealogists. I am studying up and making sure I have everything I need so that I can be confident and comfortable with my application choice. I am also looking into ICAPGen and am considering which region and specialty to focus on. I have many specialty interests, but I want to go in with the one I have “perfected” in a sense.

What’s the number one secret to your success in genealogy? The number one secret to my success in genealogy is passion. Genealogy is truly my passion. I don’t do it because I have to. I do it because I want to. It is something I love to do and I enjoy the looks on others faces when I divulge something new and interesting, whether it is good or bad. I don’t do genealogy for the money. I do it for the personal. I take pride in learning more about the ancestors who paved a way for me. I feel fulfilled when I can give people a sense of belonging and purposes. Genealogy is personal, but also global and I like that it connects us in unique ways.

What superpower would you want to help you uncover your family history? If I could have one superpower that would help me uncover my family history, it would be the power to automatically know maiden names. This would help me because I usually get stuck with women who marry. Sometimes there are no documents providing the maiden name, which then makes continuing the research a bit difficult. I’d also like to be able to apply this tool to others. When doing research for clients sometimes it is easier to know maiden names, especially when some clients know very little aside from their parents or grandparents.

What are we most likely to find you doing when you’re not researching family history? When I’m not researching family history, I’m usually writing about it. I am currently working on a memoir about how genealogy has affected my own life. In 2016, through writing about my genealogy, an adopted sibling reached out to me. Things went a bit crazy, and we are all still learning and processing the events that took place. Hopefully soon I will be done and will have the book published for others to read and learn from our experience.


The NextGen Genealogy Network is made up of young genealogists with diverse backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Faces of NextGen showcases a different member of our community each month. If you would like to be considered for an upcoming feature, simply complete our questionnaire and submit a selfie.

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