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  • Age
    41
  • Occupation
    Mailroom Associate
  • Company
    CDW
  • Location
    Vernon Hills, Ill.

Artist Paul Balan moved from the Philippines to the U.S. in 2001 with $5 in his pocket. Though his wife encouraged him to pursue his artwork, he was preoccupied with providing for his family. After landing a stable job with CDW, says Balan, “I started buying art supplies and I started creating again.” In 2009 he won a spot in the prestigious Artist Infusion Program at the U.S. Mint, where he helps come up with designs for state quarters. One of Balan’s designs was selected for a congressional medal honoring Native American code talkers. And this year his depiction of the Statue of Liberty was chosen to grace the National Humanities Medal, awarded in the past to such luminaries as Joan Didion, Elie Wiesel, and Philip Roth. His wife’s reaction? “See, I told you never to quit.”

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