40 Under Forty: Pravina Patel

Name: Pravina P. Patel, OD, FAAO, FCOVD

Age: 37

Title/Company or main life pursuit:  Optometrist specializing in vision therapy and a board member for Florida Center for the Blind

What is your word and why did you chose it?  ‘Kindness’ is such a simple word, yet has such great profound meaning that anyone can choose to do.  Kindness comes in many ways: Philanthropy, humanitarianism/volunteerism, sharing a smile, opening a door, listening to a family member, friend, or even a stranger in their time of need, standing up for a cause and choosing to support and be there for someone when they need it the most.  I chose KINDNESS because of the power that it creates from a point of positivity and nurture for the soul.  When we care and have concern for others it requires us to have inner strength and the outcome of the act is that we as humans are evolving and leaving the world a better place. 

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?  Career-wise, I aspire to build a vision therapy clinic to help children with vision-related disorders.  I envision a multidisciplinary approach to achieving this goal all while making it accessible to everyone in our community.  Personally, in the next 40 years I hope to have a family of my own and watch them grow, and to travel and explore the world. 

Favorite way to give back to the community?  My favorite way to give back to the community is the involvement I have with the Florida Center for the Blind.  It is something I hold dear to my heart. Florida Center for the Blind’s goal is to foster hope, confidence, and independence in individuals with visual impairments and to educate the community about preventing vision loss.

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area?  I was born and raised in Ocala and I’m grateful for the education and the upbringing I had here. I do look forward to some welcomed changes. I am proud to say that I am from Ocala because of the sweet people with awesome family values and the sense of community that we all share. 

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? Classical, musicals, Bollywood, Jimmy Buffet genre, oldies, and anything dance uplifts me. I like historical-based movies.

You never leave home without:  I never leave home without a plan/purpose, a smile and my cell phone. 

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: “Sometimes even the wrong train, takes us to the right station.”  All that you learn and all the people you will meet from each stop will help you grow as a person and thus serves as a purpose.  It’s okay if it takes time for you to get there as long as you get there, and if you don’t, it wasn’t part of God’s plan and that’s okay too because there is something brighter for you planned.

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout: I wanted to be an optometrist at the age of 4 because of my younger sister.  I learned from an early age from my parents how vision impacts us all and how helping someone is a small act of kindness.  I am passionate about eye health for all ages and helping children reach their potential due to vision-related disorders.  Eye health encompasses healthy nutrition/lifestyle, eyewear protection (UV/safety lenses), computer/cellphone use with breaks, early detection and annual exams.  Helping my patients achieve and maintain their best vision is my life’s joy.

40 Under Forty: Michael Mills

Name: Michael Mills

Age: 32 years old

Title/Company or main life pursuit:

I am a co-founder of Notice Me Marketing and Media. What I seek most in life is to live fully while helping others find something greater along the way.

What is your word and why did you choose it?

I chose Ubuntu. A mentor and a great friend introduced me to this philosophy. Ubuntu means “I am because we are.” My happiness and my overall success is dependent on the collective happiness and success of us all. I’ve learned I can find all that I am seeking in life and in business by bringing an ubuntu mentality with me wherever I go. There is little that brings me greater fulfillment than helping someone or a business succeed alongside me.

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?

Over the next 40 years I hope to have set a great example for my children and honored God and my wife in everything I’ve done. Ultimately, I want to have extended the arm of Notice Me Marketing and Media across the country giving veterans the opportunity to build something special for themselves. The studies I’ll have completed through a DBA or doctorate program will have lent a great deal assistance to that mission.

Outside of marketing strategy and business development, I have lofty goals for the growth of renewal primary care and the direct primary care movement. Helping people achieve optimal health and wellness is something I’ve always drawn great satisfaction from. Direct primary care is the future of family medicine!

Favorite way to give back to the community?

I served my country as a nuclear machinist mate for seven years in the United States Navy. My favorite way to give back is to volunteer my time and experience to organizations like VetNet that offers transitioning veterans the resources they need to readapt and succeed in civilian business.

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area?

Having been born and raised here I did not appreciate Ocala growing up! After spending years in different areas around the country, I’ve learned that Ocala breeds loyalty and passion within its community. I love that I can be part of the movement driving Ocala into the future.

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island?

Music – Matchbox Twenty’s albums (any and all of them), Gary Allan’s Set You Free, and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s Facing Future. Maybe the “Moana” soundtrack too.

Movies – “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” and “The Office” TV series episodes all combined into one long movie.

I’d have to bring a book: something by Mitch Albom or Max Brooks!

You never leave home without:

My notebook! I have a thoughts and dream book that I take absolutely everywhere. It is with me even when my phone is not. I fell in love with tracking my thoughts and taking notes about everything when I was in the Navy. I spent countless hours on watch touring the nuclear reactor plant and the solitude provided a wealth of self-reflection time. My notes and the ideas I write down keep me driven and motivated. There’s a couple billion dollars worth of inventions in those pages!

If you could tell your 16-year old self one thing:

Do it! Whatever it is you’re dreaming of, whatever idea or plan you’re building inside your head, do it! Right now! Don’t wait for “a better time” or whatever excuse you’re telling yourself.

Do not let the pursuit of perfection keep you from being Great!

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout:

I have built a faith-based gaming community we call Sav†ng Gaming. Our objective is to provide some accountability and face-to-face camaraderie in the gaming world where everything has been pushed to virtual or online platforms.

All that I am doing is for the future. I want to provide a world of opportunities for future generations including my daughter (our miracle baby) Ellie June and our son (due in September) Hawklan Michael.

40 Under Forty: Marko Avramovic

Marko Avramovic age 35

Operations Manager / Old Dominion Freight Lines

What word did you choose and why? 

I chose the word ‘influence’ because anyone can have it. Influence does not require a title or degree and does not need to be extra complicated. A simple smile can influence the day of another. We are constantly being watched by our peers. The way we act and react in different areas of life speak greater volumes to those watching you and when you want to see a change in the world, your actions have a greater influence than words.

Aspirations in the next 40 years?

I want to go where I am called to go. I would like to say I know for sure that I have everything methodically planned out but I don’t. I hope that in 40 years I am spending my time retired and traveling, creating memories with my family, being active in the church and community that we are called to be in and just taking advantage of every day that I am given.

Favorite way to give back to the community and why?

Honestly, the prison ministry would be my favorite. It is amazing to see these guys, learn their heart, and watch them grow. I am humbled by them and more appreciative of the things that I have and the opportunities that have opened up for me. After meeting with them and hearing their struggles and their praises, I have found myself even more grateful for each day that I get to wake up.

What do you love about Ocala?

I love that Ocala is a big city with a small town feel. It’s the best of both worlds. 

Albums and movies on a deserted island?

I would have to say Chris Tomlin’s Love Ran Red is one album I never could get tired of and the “Rocky” movies or “Back to The Future” — you can’t beat the classics!

You never leave home without:

I never leave home without my phone (lol). It is needed for work, of course, but I like that on my drive home I can talk to my dad who is on the road, or talk with my brother and sister and celebrate their achievements with them and check in on my mom, although I still give her a hard time to keep her young.

To my 16-year-old self:

Never change and never quit. The path that you are on now may feel hard sometimes but the end rewards far exceed the struggles of today. Keep going! 

Anything else you are passionate about:

My faith and my family. If I have those two things in my life I have more than I could ever want. The successes I have experienced could never have been possible without my faith and the support of my family, and if I were to lose it all, I would still consider myself a rich man.

40 Under Forty: Manuel Arteaga

Name: Manuel Arteaga

Age: 38

Title/Company or main life pursuit: CEO/WALL BEDS PLUS

What is your word and why did you chose it? BLESSED, because no matter how difficult things get, God has never failed me.

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years? To Franchise my company across the United States

Favorite way to give back to the community? Providing second chances to kids that have been abused or been told they can’t reach their dreams. We also donate 1% of all our online sales to provide water in third-world countries.

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I love how beautiful are the  landscapes and the growth opportunities for all local businesses.

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? Family album and my bible.

You never leave home without: Praying

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: Never give up no matter how hard it gets as long as you have Jesus in your life.

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout: My wife and daughters are my inspiration. I was given two weeks to live last June and God and they were the reason I fought.

40 Under Forty: Malcom-Omari Davis

Name: Malcom-Omari Davis

Age: 25

Title/Company or main life purpose: CEO, Ocalumni Corporation and Ivey League Marketing Firm

Favorite word: The word I chose is #Blacklivesmatter. The reason behind it is simple and yet complex. #BLM was founded in 2013 when I was 18 years old. Now 25, I’m still explaining how my black life is precious and meaningful. When people view me they should see Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell and so many others for I am no different. My black life is just as important as the names listed and just as important as anything else living.

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years? In the next 40 years I see myself as the family man I always wanted to be: an amazing father and husband and a prominent community leader. I want to continue with my many entrepreneurial endeavors and basically, I want to be the person my father has guided me to be and reflect his teachings.

Favorite way to give back to the community? Anything involving the younger generation and bringing the community together. Last year, out of the several events Ocalumni hosted, the beautification project in Parkside Gardens is a memory that will forever be with me. Seeing the kids embrace the beauty of their community regardless of how others feel is a sense of perseverance we all should practice.

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I love Ocala because it’s home. My family has built a legacy here that is destined for me to continue – it’s inevitable. The Pinkston blood is something that pumps fiercely in my Davis veins. The Pinkston name to me is synonymous with Ocala. I want to finally embrace it. Hate isn’t necessarily a word I use on my behalf, but I strongly dislike me not fully appreciating all the opportunities I once had in Ocala. After starting my career in Tallahassee, I knew I had the right passion, but wrong city.

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? Prince’s Purple Rain, Smino’s Blkswn, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., 04l Jigg’s 5 Burners, DJ Won6  YSL Tape, Bently Breezo’s Summer Breeze.

You never leave home without: My phone; it’s literally my lifeline.

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: The mistakes you will make aren’t always mistakes; some are valuable lessons and those lessons need to be retained in order to grow.

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout: Any and everything I do I’m very passionate about, however, when it comes to my faith that is where I can say I’m super passionate. God has blessed my family, my friends and me for years. Believing in his son, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior has brought me through many trials and tribulations. For that, I know I can never lose because of whose team I’m on. Every day I thank God for his grace and mercy; anybody who has ever felt the two can express the passion that comes with a relationship with God.

40 Under Forty: Lacy Jernigan

Name: Lacy Jernigan

Age: 39

Title/Company/main pursuit – ARNP Gaudier Neurology, mom of triplets + 1

CURE – I chose the word CURE because I learned quickly when I entered medicine that there is not a cure for everything, but many expect a cure. Obviously, a cure results in tremendous hope for patients, however, there are many people that live with diseases that cannot be cured. I have experienced this personally with a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes and professionally in neurology. When a cure is not an option, I take pride in my ability to walk my own child and my patients through their struggles by providing comfort and faith during fear and desperation, as well as providing them with hope for potential treatments and strategies to learn gratefulness for the various options modern medicine has to offer.

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?  My main aspiration is to continue to learn and grow as an individual. I also aspire to help my children develop to their maximum potential.

Favorite way to give back to the community? I really enjoy service projects, mainly in medicine and education. I serve on the school board at Grace Christian School where my children attend and a parent advisory board for UF Health Pediatric Diabetes program. I also like to support our local non-profit organizations.

What do you love or hate about Ocala? I love Ocala. I was born and raised here and only briefly left for college. My family, including my grandparents have lived in Ocala since the 1930’s. I love seeing family friends at work and in the community. It always sparks lovely conversations about the “old days.” Ocala is also a great place to raise children.

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island?  Don’t they have Pandora and Netflix on deserted islands now?!

You never leave home without – My reflex hammer and tennis racket

If you could tell your 16 -year-old self something: When you grow up ,make sure you find a career where you love what you do every day.

Anything else your passionate about that you’d like to tout: I am very passionate about my job. I love being an ARNP and working in neurology. When I am not working you will find me on the tennis court or on my road bike. But above all, I am most passionate about my family and the way my husband and I raise our children. Having 10-year-old triplets and a 6-year-old makes every day an adventure. At the end of the day, my goal is to raise my children to be their best and help them to learn, grow, and develop so that they can find success and happiness in their lives.

40 Under Forty: Kelly McAtee

Name: Kelly McAtee

Age: 33

Title/Company or main life pursuit: Things To Do Ocala

 What is your word and why did you chose it?  I chose ‘people.’  I am a strong believer in the power of relationships. Everything we accomplish, we accomplish with the support of others. 

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?  I hope to be healthy and retired in the next 40 years living on a beach! I am hoping that I can provide wisdom to our younger generation through mentoring and telling stories of a wonderful life.

Favorite way to give back to the community? I give back to the community in two ways. I have a passion for supporting the efforts of social service organizations with a demonstrated track record of improving people’s lives. Secondly, I see myself as a connector and enjoy the opportunity get to know others and introduce them to people and organizations where they can put their passions and interests into practice. 

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I was born and raised in Ocala. I’m excited to see all the growth that has happened in the last 10 years. Ocala/Marion County is a diverse area where every person can find the things important to them and thrive. 

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? I am a sucker for reggae. I would bring Slightly Stoopid and one of my favorite local artists, Propaganjah!  I love The Weeknd and Michael Jackson. My favorite movie is “The Princes Bride” and my all-time scary movies are the “Alien” series. 

You never leave home without: With my business being tied into social media, I always bring my phone with me everywhere I go. 

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: Never give up on your dreams. Your word holds true to your integrity and commitment in all relationships of life. Fall in love with the people who make you love the person you are when you are with them. 

40 Under Forty: Katherine Deras

Name: Katherine Sokol Deras

Age: 32

Title/Company or main life pursuit: Managing Director of Katya Vineyards 

What is your word and why did you chose it? Hugs.

For me, a hug is a comforting reminder of our humanity, a selfless act of friendship. This year hugs were paused for our greater good. As our world heals this is what I miss the most. 

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years? Seeing a legacy I have created with my husband successfully run by our future children . . . from a yacht in the Maldives. 

 Favorite way to give back to the community? The Ocala Royal Dames. We are a group of local women raising funds for Cancer Research. We fund local grants through the of University of Florida and Moffit Center in Tampa.  

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I love our community, our personality as a city.  Ocala has evolved into an international destination while staying true to ourselves as a whole. There is a sense of innovation that vibrates through our downtown. We are proud to be a part of this moment in Ocala’s History.  

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island? The TV show “Frasier.” My husband has the music covered! (Hopefully he won’t have to sing)

You never leave home without: For practical purposes . . . cars keys. 

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: Chin Up and Buckle Up Buttercup. You will fail, you will learn, you will succeed. This is normal, this will take time, you will be OK.

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout: Our Patrons of Katya. The restaurant business can be unforgiving. However, it is the people you care for who give you purpose and drive. Our patrons are the life force behind Katya, and we thank you. Also . . . I love cats. 

40 Under Forty: Kara Mangum

Name: Kara Mangum

Age: 29

Title/Company:

Founder & Executive Director of Our Hearts Align

What is your word and why did you choose it?

Educate. Educating others is at the core of everything I do. Quality education, rooted in truth and service to others, is essential to improving lives and creating endless possibilities.

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?

In the years to come, I will first and always strive to be the best wife and mother I can be. I want to cultivate love within our home and to work together to serve our community as a family.  I hope to travel to each of the United States with our children and to instill a love of learning and adventure within their hearts. I pray I can grow Our Hearts Align to continue to serve those experiencing pregnancy loss across the world in a meaningful way.

Favorite way to give back to the community?

I enjoy partnering with other nonprofits and small businesses in our area to help them accomplish their goals. We are incredibly blessed to have so many wonderful businesses that want to serve and give back to our community.  Whether it is by volunteering, donating to a project, or just showing support, working together allows us to help meet the needs of those in our community.    

What do you love about the Ocala area?

Since I was born and raised in Marion County there is a lot I could say here. Mostly, I love being from a small town that is close to everything. I love that our small town has made an impact on both a national and worldwide level.  I love that we continue to grow, some areas faster than others, yet we preserve the history that brought us to where we are today. I love our culture of horses, outdoor adventures, and events that bring families together. I love our small town.

A few albums or movies you would bring to a deserted island?

Albums: Tim McGraw’s Greatest Hits, Rend Collective’s Good News and A Pentatonix Christmas

Movies: “Legally Blonde,” “God’s Not Dead” series and “The Blind Side”

You never leave home without:

A bag. I LOVE bags! You can often catch me carrying 2-3 different bags at one time. 

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing:

Read the Bible more. You can gain all the knowledge in the world ,but without wisdom it means nothing.

Anything else you are super passionate about? 

I am extremely passionate about teaching children and encouraging parents to be involved in their children’s education. Through my blog, “Passion in the Purpose,” I demonstrate how to use real-world, hands-on learning experiences to teach our children. I hope to show that education and life should not be viewed as separate entities, but instead that life itself is vital to our education.

Activities and resources can be found at www.passioninthepurpose.com

40 Under Forty: Jordyn Holzer

Name:  Jordyn Holzer

Age: 26

Title/Company or main life pursuit: Forensic Crime Scene Technician at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office  

What is your word and why did you chose it? Perseverance.

When I graduated college in May, 2016, it took over a year to get a job in Forensics. I applied to over 50 law enforcement agencies, from as far north as Kentucky to as far south as Miami. I received multiple rejection letters due to my lack of hands-on experience. I even had people tell me I would never get a crime scene job. Others suggested I should consider something else in my field. Being constantly told “no” was rather disheartening. I took my frustrations from the rejection and discovered a solution. I learned about the CSI Academy and took it upon myself to find other various crime scene training courses so that I could get this so desired hands-on experience. After attending multiple training courses, I was able to land my job at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Shout out to Lieutenant Calhoun!

What aspirations do you have for yourself in the next 40 years?

I hope to be retired and traveling the world.

 

Favorite way to give back to the community?  By assisting in solving crimes in our community, through science and dedication.

What do you love and/or hate about the Ocala area? I moved to Ocala from the Atlanta area. What I love about Ocala is the location because within two hours or less, I can be to beaches, theme parks, and beautiful springs. 

A few albums and movies you’d bring to a deserted island?

Movies: “Hocus Pocus,” “Beetlejuice,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Tangled. “

Albums: Billie Eilish- When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? , Ke$ha- Warrior, Sean Paul- The Trinity and Pitbull- M.I.A.M.I.

You never leave home without: My cell phone, wallet and coffee.

If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing: Mom was right!

Anything else you’re super passionate about that you’d like to tout:

My dog, Shay. Go check out her Instagram (@snarl_shay) and you’ll see why!

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