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'Humans of Worthington' project shines light on people’s stories

WORTHINGTON -- In November, "Humans of Worthington" surfaced on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, providing a picture and short written profile of Worthington residents.

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John Nau, Lakeyta Potter Swinea and Kevin Gutierrez have all been featured by "Humans of Worthington." (Special to The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - In November, “Humans of Worthington” surfaced on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, providing a picture and short written profile of Worthington residents.

 

The unexpected project had people asking: who is behind this?

 

Andrea Magana, 20, grew up in Worthington, but it wasn't until she moved to the Twin Cities for college that she became inspired to start the project. She was interviewed for “Humans of Northwestern” during her time at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul and loved the idea.

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“Everybody has a story, and I think it’s really cool that I get to share that through something as simple as social media,” Magana said. “I’ve always had a passion for storytelling and I liked the whole idea of ‘Humans’ - the idea of connecting people through stories.”

 

Of course, the concept is also inspired by the ultra-popular “Humans of New York,” and Magana’s Worthington spinoff similarly puts the spotlight on those that aren’t used to the big stage.

 

The posts share short snapshots that give readers context - as to how Robyn Murphy started Shining Fame Performance, why Aida Simon stands up for those that don’t have a voice or what motivated John Nau to become a pastor.

 

“You might see people on the street and say ‘hi’ to them, but you probably don’t know much about them,” Magana said. “This is more intimate, more personal stuff about people that you usually wouldn’t know.”

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Born in Mexico, Magana moved to Worthington at age 2. She and her mother became citizens through her father, who was born in California.

 

Magana took PSEO classes full-time for two years at Minnesota West during her junior and senior years at Worthington High School. It took her just two years to graduate from the University of Northwestern with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

 

Magana, now employed at the public relations firm Rapp Strategy Inc. in Minneapolis, makes a weekend three-hour drive to Worthington every month or so. Typically, she’ll line up a batch of interviews for a Saturday or Sunday and dedicate an entire afternoon to them.


“Sometimes I go into the interview thinking I want to focus on a specific aspect, but a lot of times I have no idea what the feature will be about,” Magana said. “Then we keep going and I ask more questions, and they tell me something that completely blows me away.”

The main idea is spreading a positive message - that everyone has a story to tell - to heal and unite the community through story.

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“It was a way to try to give back to the community I was raised in,” Magana said.

 

Stories come out every Thursday and on some Sundays, when Magana has time. She doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

 

“I want Humans of Worthington to continue for as long as possible and I want to do it as long as possible,” Magana said. “If I’m ever not able to do the interviews, I would find somebody to take it over and continue it.”

 

The Humans of Worthington Facebook page can be found at facebook.com/Humansofworthington. Magana can be reached at humansofworthington@gmail.com .

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Pictured is Worthington native Andrea Magana. (Photo by Nathan E. Elias)

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