Photographs by Cristina Gutierrez
"Devan is an amazing person, an amazing friend, a lover of cranberry vodkas, and is truly an artist when it comes to using certain expletives to make her point. But above all that, she’s also a person who inspires others. With everything she’s gone through, she still finds a way to always make the people around her laugh and feel special. I’m so proud to be her friend and to watch Heart to Heart grow, and to watch her continue to advocate for mental health awareness through her career. She truly is a trailblazer in everything she does, and I am so proud to call her my friend, roommate, and favorite person to sweat with on a crowded Red Line train at 8 AM five days a week."
– Danielle LaPierre
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A TRAILBLAZER?
Did you know that if you google trailblazer, you get a "person who makes a new track through wild country." Which sure that can definitely be a trailblazer, but that is not what comes to mind for me, even being from Maine, you won't catch me in the "Wild Country."
Being a trailblazer to me is being someone who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo and being able to see that just because this is how something has always gone, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how we are always going to do it. I think that it a trailblazer is someone who wants to push the envelope and make the world a better place for everyone else, and at least in my case, someone who has been through something that hurt them and they don’t want anyone else to hurt.
When I started Heart to Heart; I wanted to be a trailblazer, but I didn’t want people to make anything about me or my story, but to use my story and the support of the athletic department, my team, and Casey, to pave the way.
Pave the way so that NO one would ever have to feel the way I felt: alone. I also don’t want people to think I am someone who beat depression and am living mental illness free – because I am not. But that’s okay.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST MOMENT OF YOUR LIFE OR CAREER?
I could say a lot of things for this one. Graduating college, getting a dream job, telling my story, starting a mental health initiative and spreading it to 13 schools, speaking to schools and at conferences.
But my biggest moment is this: still being here.
There were times I didn’t want to be, times I thought of giving up and that this world would be better off that way. But the biggest moment of my life and career is learning to take each challenge as it comes and remember to live in the moment, laugh louder, smile bigger, and never be afraid to admit when you’re hurting. Learning that lesson has set me up for more amazing moments in my life and career but also the ability to get through the harder days.