State 03: New Hampshire

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.A. | August 03-04, 2017

VETERAN: Adeliz Feliciano
BRANCH: U.S. Marines

ARTIST: Alfonso Fabrega
WEBSITE: www.agfabrega.com
INSTAGRAM: @agfabrega

VIDEOGRAPHER: Miles Woodworth, Seacoast Flash
PHOTOGRAPHER:: Raya Al-Hashmi, Raya on Assignment

WORKSPACE: 3S Artspace
PARTNERS: Alpha Industries

STATE SPONSOR: Available

TRANSFORM

U.S. Marine Veteran Adeliz Feliciano collaborated with designer Alfonso Fabrega on the design “Transform,” a visual representation of Adeliz’s personal transformation from a young, uncertain teenager entering the military into a strong, confident woman by the time she transitioned out into civilian life as a college student. While she can attribute many of her qualities and strengths to her experience serving as an Intelligence Analyst in the Marines from 2006-2015, her faith has ultimately been her guiding light.

Inspired by a section of verse that reads, “Perhaps you were born for a time such as this…” (Esther 4:14), Adeliz’s faith in God is a daily reminder to trust in His plan for her. Adeliz hopes her design and story encourages others that there is purpose behind the pain, but you have to commit to finding out what that purpose is and trust that all things can and will work together for your good — keep pressing, keep pushing, keep transforming.

Her personal life-changing transformation is represented by the ascending characters of an abstract symbol of woman (bottom) becoming the insignia of her rank (middle) that then leads to a crown (top). Now with a clearer understanding of who is she and what she stands for, the grid and cross in the background represent how Adeliz has been able to reflect on her experiences to see the greater blueprint God has for her life.

In collaboration with Alpha Industries, the designs from the 50 States: Veterans + Artists United tour are produced into a limited number of fifty t-shirts and embroidered patches. Click below to purchase Adeliz and Alfonso’s collaborative “Transform” design exclusively on AlphaIndustries.com.

SHIRT: $30.00

Size Shown: Large (Unisex)

PATCH: $17.00

Patch Width: 4.0in

DECAL: $5.00

3.0in x 3.0in

 BEHIND-THE-PROCESS: 

[Written by: Kendra Clapp Olguín | Photos by: Raya Al-Hashmi]

A transformation every individual experiences, the process of an adolescent becoming a young adult is one that varies from person to person. Cultures across the world yield different traditions for teenagers’ progression into adulthood. This evolution has become generalized in the United States as society and the media portray what seems like an organic transition involving higher education that leads to a career that leads to economic stability that leads to retirement.

As we all come to find out, this “route” is littered with obstacles and working through the hardships is when the real growth happens. For U.S. Marine Veteran Adeliz Feliciano, the adversity she faced wasn’t on a battlefield but existed internally. One of very few female Marines, Adeliz’s insecurities grew as she felt at times singled out and treated differently. Not one to complain, Adeliz looks back on only the positives of her career: the Marine camaraderie, partaking in philanthropic missions, traveling all over the world, and her position as an Intelligence Analyst that pushed her out of her shell in order to become a more confident woman.

After nine years, Adeliz left the Marines to attend college and experienced the drastic culture shock service-members face when transitioning to civilian life. Feeling entirely lost and at her lowest point, Adeliz found peace and guidance from God. Seeing that the struggle and adversity she endured led her closer to God, Adeliz, more than ever, trusts in His plan for her and knows He will see her through any transformation.

On a muggy August morning, Adeliz walked into the cool refuge of the air-conditioned Profile Coffee Bar just two blocks away from Portsmouth’s Old Harbor. Shoulders back from years of military posture, she stepped forward, extended her hand, and introduced herself to graphic designer Alfonso Fabrega.

The pair took a seat in the orange midcentury couches of the coffee shop, with customers whizzing by for their morning fix of caffeine. After a few introductions from Alfonso, [HAS HEART], photographer Raya Al-Hashmi, and videographer Miles Woodworth, all eyes turned to Adeliz.

With years of experience briefing and de-briefing Marines, she remained calm under pressure and knew where to start. Originally from Chelsea, Massachusetts, a town labeled in the 90s as the “poorest and most dangerous city in the state,” Adeliz’s parents decided to move to Nottingham, New Hampshire, in order to provide a safer environment for their children. Although in another state, her father continues to commute to serve as a firefighter in the Boston area. This is an example of the Feliciano perseverance and dedication to service that is at the core of the family.

Uncertain of whether she was prepared to go to college and how to pay for it, her father pushed her toward the military. When Alfonso asks what led her to join the Marines specifically, Adeliz explains, “I can underestimate myself a lot, but then there is also a part of me that doesn’t settle for less and forces me to go the extra mile. I decided I was not going to do the Army, Navy, or Air Force; I was going to join the Marines and go all the way.” It was that Feliciano drive that led her to join the Marines and would later motivate her younger brothers as well.

When the date to leave for boot camp seemed to be drawing near, it took a sudden leap. “They told me that if I wanted the [Intelligence Analyst] job, I was going to have to leave sooner, so I did. Leaving my family was so emotional,” Adeliz shared with Alfonso.

“On the first night, I was running up the stairs and didn’t get out of a drill instructor’s way and he yelled at me. I froze and thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing? What did I get myself into?’ But I just breathed and told myself, ‘you’re already here, just keep going.’”

That Feliciano determination got Adeliz through the rigors of boot camp and beyond. Through all of the training and hard work, Adeliz became a strong, confident Marine, ready for any obstacle in her way. What Adeliz was not prepared for was the prejudice she experienced from her fellow Marines.

When Alfonso inquired of the challenges she faced while serving, Adeliz responded that “the biggest challenge, simple fact, was just being female. I don’t want to make the Marine Corps look bad because I love them, but there were times I was singled out because I was a female. I’d hear sexist jokes, sometimes even from leadership.”

To provide some context, the Marine Corps makes up 13.9% of the Active Duty Force (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard). Within that 13.9%, just 6.2% of the enlisted are females. What that means is Marines that are female make up .8% – under 1% – of the entire Active Duty Force.

“You work extra hard to earn respect; you feel like you’re being watched and you don’t want to look weak so you’re pushing yourself even further” she described. Adeliz isn’t one to lash out or complain; no matter how much unwanted attention she got or what was muttered behind her back when she briefed or did her physical fitness test, she would try to ignore it and keep moving forward.

“My brother was one of the people that kept me motivated. He always told me he was proud of me and to keep going and my whole family was always there to build me up and say, ‘keep going, girl!’”

And “go” she did. From 2006-2015, Adeliz served two tours, including serving in Iraq, Kosovo, Costa Rica, and various parts of Africa. Aware that her fellow Marines’ lives depended on her thorough work as an Intelligence Analyst, Adeliz pushed herself as hard as she could, ignoring the distractions and her own insecurities.

Fueled up on coffee, we all had walked to 3S Artspace and climbed up their stairs to their attic workspace with bright orange tables. We all noticed the orange trend of the day. As we all got situated, Alfonso inquired as to whether it had gotten easier at the end of her career in the Marine Corps and Adeliz responded that it did, thanks to God. “When I started working on my relationship with God, how he used me, how he loves me, how he has plans for me and my future, the things people said about me didn’t matter anymore,” she explained to Alfonso.

Living in North Carolina after completing her second tour, Adeliz questioned staying in the Marine Corps. Feeling unhappy and wanting her own identity and independence, Adeliz took a chance on getting out in 2015, leaving the security and certainty of the military world.

Alone and far from her family, she began the transition into civilian life, starting with taking college classes in North Carolina. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until she found herself feeling depressed.

“I had avoided the whole walk with God. Before, there would be times where I would be struggling and I’d just go to church. It wasn’t until then that I had a strong encounter with God and felt the Holy Spirit.

They did an altar call and I went up and the pastor singled me out,” she describes. “I felt something warm all over me and just broke down in tears in front of everybody. It was always in the back of my mind that I had to get right with God but I wanted to do my own thing. I ignored it, I wanted to party and drink. Eventually, I found myself in a desperate place and finally told myself, ‘you cannot keep going through this, nothing will ever change,’ so I decided to make it right with God, joined a church, and got baptized. I feel like no matter how many times I ran from Him, He pursued me.”

It was then that Adeliz moved back to New Hampshire to be closer to her family and transferred to the University of New Hampshire where she is currently finishing her second year.

Understanding God’s omnipresence in Adeliz’s life, Alfonso asks where the connection first began. she laughed, responding that it actually began before her birth.

“When my mother was pregnant,” she tells him, “my grandmother was praying and felt something shake her rosary. She then heard a voice tell her, ‘name her Adeliz.’ She went back to my mother and told her to name me Adeliz, meaning, ‘the noble one.’”

Having also grown up in a Latino household, Alfonso understood the significance of spirituality can play within a Latino family’s culture. Then asking her what the story of her name means to her, Adeliz responds that “knowing this [story] shows me how God has always thought of me instead of what people think of me.”

By the second day, neon pink and yellow Post-Its with words and phrases from Adeliz’s life were scattered over two of the room’s walls.

We had all just gotten back from getting coffee and recapping our first day at a nearby Starbucks when Alfonso asked Adeliz, “If there was one general theme or message that she wished to convey, what would that be?”

She walked toward the wall, extending her arm and pulling down the Post-It with the words “ADELIZ – NOBEL ONE” on it. “Everyone has a purpose in life,” she tells Alfonso.

“Everyone has a reason for being here, you were meant to do something in your life.” It was then that Adeliz was reminded of Esther 4:14 that states, Perhaps you were born for such a time as this. “My identity is most important to me,” she says. “It took the Marine Corps and God to show me all of the ways in which I was stronger, that I am stronger than I always thought I was. Now I know I cannot fail, I cannot fail.”

The clarity and assurance of Adeliz’s tone were inspiring. “For so long I was insecure about so many things. I struggled with the thought of God loving me but now I know that I am worth more and meant for more; that God is slowly bringing it all together.”

Struck by her firm faith and sense of self, Alfonso envisioned a design made up of distinct graphics that demonstrate not only Adeliz’s transformation but also her trust in God’s plan for whatever the future may hold. With a general theme and message in mind, the pair sat down to flesh out the design and its components. Just as life tends to, the design seemed to work its way into place.

Organized by a grid that represents God’s plan, the design begins with the abstract symbol of woman (bottom) that eventually becomes an abstract symbol of Adeliz’s rank as a Marine Staff Sergeant (middle), then leading to the symbol of a queen (top). The ascending transition of the symbols represents Adeliz’s transformation from an insecure teenager to a resilient and strong Marine to eventually becoming the confident woman she was destined to be as “the noble one.”

The symbol of the cross centers the design as God is the center of Adeliz’s life. Ultimately, the words of Esther 4:14 enclose the design just as trust in God’s plan provides her solace and strength. 

While each one of us faces different challenges and hardships throughout the course of our lives, Adeliz hopes that the design will inspire you to have faith in your purpose in life, that you have a destiny just as she does, and that perhaps you too were born for such a time as this.

Support Adeliz and help share her message by purchasing the “Transform” products designed in collaboration with Alfonso:

SHIRT: $30.00

Size Shown: Large (Unisex)

PATCH: $17.00

Patch Width: 4.0in

DECAL: $5.00

3.0in x 3.0in

OUR JOURNEY: NEW HAMPSHIRE 

Written by: Kendra Clapp Olguin | Photos by: Tyler Way

After spending a couple nights in a holding pattern in parking lots at a Cabela’s in Maine then a Walmart in New Hampshire, we finally packed up the car with drinks and snacks for the road. An hour later, we found ourselves already in Portsmouth – 68 miles later. We didn’t even get a chance to start eating our Peanut Butter M&M’s…

[READ MORE]