By Cameron Rasmusson
Lauren Sfeir brings a unique perspective to Sandpoint, which is always a useful trait as an artist.
Raised in Beirut, she moved to North Idaho with her family to take care of her grandfather, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Upon arriving in town, she saw many of its quirks with entirely fresh eyes. It’s a viewpoint she brings into her photography—particularly her nature photography, which has lately been her focus.
“Living (outside the U.S.) taught me how to look at things in a different way,” she said. “When I came here, I was amazed at things like geese.”
It was that freshness of vision and the breadth of experience in her young life that impressed Kristina and George Orton and the other members of the selection committee for the Live Your Dreams Scholarship. Founded in the memory of their son, Patrick Orton, the scholarship is tailored for young people who want to seek a career following their passions.
“(Lauren) stuck out because her background is really interesting as well as her drive and commitment,” said Kristina Orton.
“You just know that whatever she turns her focus to, she’s going to achieve it,” she added.
Sfeir caught wind of the scholarship while pursuing financial support to attend the Whitworth University. She immediately felt a kinship with the scholarship’s mission statement and with Patrick Orton himself.
“This scholarship spoke to me the most especially because Patrick was such a great photographer and was so inspiring,” she said.
According to Kristina Orton, Sfeir stuck out among this year’s 28 applicants not only for her drive and talent but also her community spirit. A frequent volunteer, Sfeir made waves in Sandpoint High School when she and a classmate raised $800 for Kinderhaven by collecting pennies.
Upon leaving for college, Sfeir aims to study photography. She’s excited to learn from experts on the subject, especially since much of her early skill-building was based on trial and error. Her goal is to take her nature photography to a professional level by working for a nature magazine. The ultimate dream is to one day land a job with National Geographic. Given the expenses of attending Whitworth, she is grateful for the help the Ortons have provided her. Every little bit helps when you’re chasing a dream.
“I am so thankful for the Orton family and what they have done for me,” she said. “I am so grateful for their investment in my future and appreciate that I am able to be a part of Patrick’s legacy.”